Team Canada and Russia played another 6-5 classic, with the visitors prevailing to take the series lead with one game left in the Canada-Russia Challenge.
Canada twice erased two-goal deficits in front of a spirited crowd at the Halifax Metro Centre, but never could never take the lead against Andrei Makarov, who also nailed down the verdict for Russia in its semifinal win over the hosts at the world junior championship seven months ago in Calgary. Andrei Sigarev scored his second goal of the night with 6:23 to play to break a deadlock .
Canada needs a regulation-time win on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, TSN/RDS/TSN Radio) in order to have a chance of winning the series. (If that happens, the teams will play a 20-minute sudden-death overtime and a shootout if necessary to decide the series.) Here is an off-the-cuff and wholly arbitary Team Canada report card for Game 3.
Forwards — Canada basically got hot-goalied by Makarov, who stopped 37-of-42 shots, including 12-of-13 in the third period, to help Russia win a game where it was arguably out-chanced. Sean Monahan, the Ottawa 67's centre who was the youngest player in Canada's lineup, showed his savvy in the offensive zone and picked up one goal while playing on a line with his fellow Mississauguan, New York Islanders first-rounder Ryan Strome. (TSN's Mike Johnston at one point referred to Monahan being a member of the OHL's Oshawa Generals, but that's an excusable Freudian slip since the pivot looked Tavares-like at times.)
The NHL labour situation will affect Jonathan Huberdeau's availability for the world junior, but the Florida Panthers prospect made a great dangle on the sequence that led to Canada's fifth goal. Montreal Canadiens pick Charles Hudon illustrated why he stacked up well in last season's Jeff Skinner Rankings by once again being one of the best Canadian forwards, scoring a power-play goal in the second period.
The one downside for the forward group included being slow off the hop (understandable after playing two continents away three days earlier, but so did Russia) and taking time to control tempo. They were also soft on the boards on the final Russian goal. Returning forward Boone Jenner was a little cavalier with his stick and took a penalty 1:01 into the third with the score even at 4-4; Russia scored on the ensuing man advantage.
Defence — The focus should be more on how Canada went about it than what happened. Ryan Murphy (1G-3A), Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder Morgan Rielly (an on-the-tape pass to Huberdeau for the 5-5 goal) and Ryan Murray (1G-1A) led a back end that was activated and generated scoring chances throughout the night. It was a welcome chance from the typical Canadian junior team that's full of two-way and shutdown D-men with the one token offensive defenceman who's only unchained from the bench on power plays. Canada likely will need that extra gear to stretch opposing defences with the WJHC on big European ice for the first time in five seasons.
Murphy bounced back well from the costly turnover that led to a Russian short-handed goal in Game 2 last Thursday. If only there was some way to know how last season's edition of the national junior team would have looked if he had been up to full game fitness in December; he was not all the way back from a concussion when the selection camp was held.
Please keep in mind two top-10 NHL picks, Griffin Reinhart and Dougie Hamilton, were held out of Canada's lineup.
Goaltending — Western League playoff MVP Laurent Brossoit was neither lucky nor particularly good while allowing six goals on 27 shots. It clearly was not his night, as the Calgary Flames draft pick was beaten on the first Russian shot and also couldn't corral a rebound on the winning goal.
Please keep in mind that this was an exhibition game that had a certainly scrambly aspect to it. Goalies whose stock-in-trade is being technically sound can sometimes get thrown off in those contests (Brossoit didn't always get help, especially when he was screened on the third Russia goal). The 19-year-old Calgary Flames prospect and Boston Bruins first-rounder Malcolm Subban are the best in Canada's lean pool of teen 'tenders, which is still a year away from being restocked.
The less said directly about Brossoit, the more likely Subban will be in goal for Game 4.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.