WCOH Postgame: Russia beats North America in thriller

Photo Credit: Dan Hamlton/USA TODAY SPORTS

We wanted fast paced, high energy hockey, and boy, did we ever get it. This was a game that not only lived up to expectation but pulled up the rest of the games surrounding it to really drive home the World Cup of Hockey’s entertainment value, if not its oft-debated “legitimacy”. A quick run of goals for the Russians gave the young North Americans the chance to attempt a comeback for the ages, and they almost pulled it off but fell just short in a 4-3 defeat.

Things initially looked good for the kids, when Mark Scheifele, Connor McDavid, and Auston Matthews combined on a dazzling goal just five minutes into the first period. But at the start, Russia had played them reasonably close, fighting attempt with attempt while Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Murray both remained sharp.

Ultimately, one of the goaltenders, both entering their second game of a back-to-back, was due to crack first. In this case, it was the younger Murray, who had played the evening game 24 hours before as well. Vladislav Namestnikov grabbed a rebound in front of the net, and while he initially found iron, the puck bounced off of Murray’s skate and into the back of the net midway through the second period. Nikita Kucherov followed up with a goal of his own 50 seconds later. 

North America was down, but not out at this point. But the next five minutes brought the moment from setback to disaster, as Evgeny Kuznetsov turned some angry energy carried over from interactions with Mark Scheifele and Sean Couturier into an end-to-end rush to make it 3-1, and Vladimir Tarasenko added another two minutes later.

Murray was yanked. In came John Gibson. Suddenly, doubt was cast on the North Americans. But they weren’t ready to head out without a fight. Morgan Rielly ripped a shot from the point to bring the kids back to within two with time left in the second period.

What followed was one of the most entertaining periods of hockey you’ll ever see. The North Americans clearly had gas in the tank and did absolutely anything they could to change the course of the game. They cycled, they fired, they pushed and shoved and simply seemed to be a little bit ahead of the Russians with every possible puck decision.

Eventually, it worked out again. This time, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins batted home a rebound in front of the net, instigated by Colton Parayko’s point shot and Nathan MacKinnon’s initial attempt. Hungry for more, the North Americans kept firing, hellbent on finishing the task at hand.


But it wasn’t meant to be. Even with a couple of powerplays including a 5-on-3, Bobrovsky’s composure came back and pucks were moved to the outside by clearing defenders before they could get loose in high-danger areas. North America even pulled Gibson for the extra man with two minutes to go and had a 6-on-4 opportunity when Dimitry Orlov was penalized with 41 seconds remaining, but it came to no avail.

Overall, it was a very good night for the players representing our many teams across this network. Oilers fans got to see McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins make big contributions to two of the three goals, Leafs fans saw Rielly, Zaitsev, and Matthews get on the scoresheet with meaningful minutes aplenty. Flames fans got a point out of Gaudreau, Jets fans got to see Trouba draw into the lineup while Scheifiele grabbed an assist and caused trouble. As for Red Wings fans, well, Marchenko and Larkin were on the ice, and Canucks fans got to enjoy the rest of their evening knowing that they avoided seeing Luca Sbisa in the previous game as well.

North America will play their next game on Wednesday afternoon when they take on the Swedes at 3PM local time.

  • bwar

    RNH and MacKinnon were phenomenal last night. Really thought they deserved a chance to go out on the 5 on 3 especially with having already scored on the pp, how well they were playing and the McDavid units struggle on the powerplay.

    What an amazing third period to watch.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      The 5v3 was put in the hands of the “top” line to dominate from the outside without many real chances. Only when the puck was sent down the ice in the late stages did they come off, and the Johnny-Nuge-MacKinnon come on. The result of the overwork was a straggler coming off late. End of 5v3 and take a penalty.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      You play the best odds and they don’t always work but I’d rather have McDavid and Mathews out there together more than any other duo!

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        That’s rich. Playing the best odds is going to the players that have been scoring regularly, both EV and PP. If you are concentrating on transition, then go with the fastest skaters, sure.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Too bad Puljujarvi was injured this guy was the MVP at last year’s world junior tournament and he just finished scoring 6 points in two games in young stars games.
    This guy should be playing on team Finland!
    Connor, Drai,NUGE, sekera, all shining in this World Cup.

    • @Hallsy4

      Must really bug Flames fans that even when we don’t win the lotto, we get the best player in the draft. I remember the World J’s Pulo I thought was the best player, and I wished that we could have nice things. What a time to be alive.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Seeing how a GM with a great network of Finnish scouts wouldn’t select him. Most people are labelling him as a fool, but he has done nothing at the NHL level to show that he ready.

        Was he even in consideration for the WCH team? Wasn’t on the preliminary roster. It’s possible that the Flames would have taken him, but they seemed to focus a lot of the pre-draft talk on Tkachuk.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          Flames would have taken him in a heartbeat. You remember they thought they had a deal for the 3rd pick overall?
          You think they were trying to move up and pick Tkachuk at 3? Ya that makes sense.
          We picked the right guy in Draisaitl over Bennett and also Puljujarvi over Tkachuk.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            The Oiler style of drafting is look at TSN’s draft list and pick the one that lines up with their pick.
            If you recall correctly, the Flames were trying to make two or three separate deals on the draft floor.
            They believed that The Oilers would pick Tkachuk, so they wanted to trade with EDM. You try to trade up because you don’t know who will be available at 3rd.
            The only question about picking Poolie over Tkachuk would have been positional need.

            EDM is so great they could even make a deal with Columbus for a player that would be available at 4th anyway.

            Keep your German Gretzky, he will be a good 3rd line C for years top coome. No Hall to play with this year.

      • X Man

        Hahahaha!… Wow… The Oilers have been the worst team in the league for like ten years and counting… Do you forget that they finished 2nd last, ahead of only the Leafs by 1 point, last year?… Flames fans laugh and pity you… I assure you we are not in any way ‘bugged’ by your annual astounding successes in the summer months… Lol…

        Some of us even hope someday they turn the page…

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Nah…it just bothers us that you think winning the lottery is a tactic used to continually suck….and how you can turn high achieving prospects into average players. I am sure Poolparty’s 6 points in 2 meaningless games will lead to greatness. Hmm…I guess McLellan’s inept coaching bothered me more than I thought.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        Does the word injury mean anything to you? He just had surgery a few months ago, and still the MVP of the young stars tournament. He would have had 9 points if he had played 3 games.

  • Spoils

    reposting this because i firmly believe it is the path forward.

    World under 23 – NOT Team North America – why? because what if USA loses to Sweden? How is it fair denying them Johnny Hockey?

    Team Europe is fine, but I would prefer another World team. All players NOT picked to play can be selected (any age). The underdogs basically. See Taylor Hall.

    you want the best players, that gets you the best players.

    Oh, and top 6 teams from the Olympic standings qualify. if say Russia laid an egg and ended up in 7th at the Olympics, then all those stars still make it on an Awesome world team.

    Some said North America was awkward. It worked.

    This system will work long term as new countries emerge over time.

  • How did this get pulled back to Oilers v Flames? I think if you’re an honest fan of either team, you know there are some issues. Edmonton has been poorly managed for a long time, which has both allowed them to luck out and collect some ridiculous talent, but has meant a lower finish than the flames for every year except when they drafted Monahan (lock out year?)

    For the Flames it means once that Gadreau contract is singed, that’s it. That’s the team they need to rely on to go win a cup. Monahan, Bennet, Gadreau, Brodie, Gio, Hamilton, Elliot, Frolik, Tchachuck and Brouwer. Personally, and maybe it’s a bit biased, I think Calgary is building another bubble team.

    As for the world cup, it’s been pretty exciting watching Sekera, Draisaitl, Nuge, and McDavid all doing very well. It will allow them to jump right into game one and excel. Been really enjoying the hockey in the this event.

    • smith

      I think both teams are in a similar boat. The talent is mostly in place. Now grow. Both the Oilers and Flames have bad money spent on some pretty doubtful players.

      It actually seems like now the Flames actually have more money spent on bad players than the Oilers. Wideman, Engelland, Bollig, Smid etc….. Make some good decisions with this money and their could be some real improvement.

    • @Hallsy4

      I think it was my fault. Very immature on my part I’ll admit lol.I agree with exactly what you said. Still can’t believe we lucked out and got Pulo, hope he turns out but I think he will.@jakethesnail I agree on Kruger. I miss Kruger, he looked the Al Bundy or whatever that guys name is. maybe MacTs worst move of some pretty bad ones.

  • OilCan2

    Yikes!! What a lot of silliness with berating other teams. Childish.

    Cheer for your team as loud as you want. Grow up already.

    Even better lace em up and get your exercise.

  • jakethesnail

    It’s been great seeing Ralph Krueger taking a rag-tag team of players from 10 countries and getting them together as one heckuva solid team. And the MacT dumped him for….Dallas?