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Vasilevski steals show early in Russia’s Game One win: Monday’s Three Stars

Russia's Andrei Vasilevski (Getty Images)No. 1 Star - Andrei Vasilevski, Team Russia

Vasilevski is, unfortunately for Team Canada fans, no stranger to audiences this side of the pond. We got re-acquainted with "Vasya", now a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, right at the end of the first period when Jean-Sebastien Dea was robbed by the left pad of Vasilevski, sliding across and taking away a clear open net. That held Russia's 2-0 first period lead, and they would go on to win 6-2 for a Game One victory in the Subway Super Series. Later in the third right after Russia had made it 5-1, Nathan MacKinnon set up Anthony Mantha on a quick break but Vasilevski stopped him with the glove making it look effortless.

The QMJHL team only had a couple of lines rolling. There was Jonathan Huberdeau and Nathan MacKinnon's, who saw time with both Dea and Mantha, and the second unit composed of Phillip Danault, Charles Hudon and Francis Beauviller. Hudon had a couple of good chances in the second, but they failed to get the puck high on Vasilevski, who worked the bottom of the net all game, displaying excellent lateral movement and challenging the Canadian shooters to pick spots on him. He stopped 28 of 30.

No. 2 Star - Nail Yakupov, Team Russia

Sure, the play in his own end was suspect, and sure, he was trying a little too hard to force the fancy play in the offensive zone, but this whole tournament may be Yakupov's show, and he looked excellent breaking through the neutral zone and set up a number of clear-cut opportunities thanks to his speed and quickness. He set up the game's first scoring chance with a feather soft saucer pass to Alexander Khokhlachev splitting the "D" for a breakaway for the former Windsor Spitfire, and Yakupov, the No. 1 overall selection to Edmonton, scored the 2-0 goal midway through the first period on a slap shot from the top of the circle.

Yakupov would finally register an assist in the third period when he took a hard shot on Étienne Marcoux that neither the goalie or his Blainville-Boisbriand teammate Cedric Paquette could handle and Khokhlachev wired it home.

No. 3 Star - Xavier Ouellet, Team QMJHL

Despite being a minus-2, I didn't think that the Detroit Red Wings-select looked too bad in the defensive end. Ouellet took the role of the offensive Canadian defenceman for Team QMJHL, working the puck forward and using the extra space in the high slot created off Russian forwards pressuring the point-man. He had two excellent chances in the second period, sneaking just above the face-off circle, and scored Canada's first goal on an absolute rocket, and set up the stretch play that led to their second.

Honourable Mention - Mikhail Grigorenko, Team Russia

It's man against boys for Grigorenko in this type of game. He's used to playing for a team that routinely blows out QMJHL competition. He was Russia's top player off the Yakupov line, and opened the scoring on a pretty feed from Val-d'Or's Anton Zlobin.

Honourable Mention - Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathan Huberdeau, Team QMJHL

The pair never clicked, and MacKinnon finished with a single assist, but they were really Canada's top combination, setting up several scoring chances on the night and a handful of shots. In the third period, Huberdeau took a wrist shot right off a face-off win from MacKinnon that nearly handcuffed Vasilevski. He covered it up, forcing another face-off, and the pair ran the same play. This time, Huberdeau hit the post, and Vasilevski had to reach a little further back to keep him off the scoreboard.

Game Grade: C. The game started with plenty of buzz, and a fun first period quickly turned into a tiresome second as the team's failed to generate the same pace. By the third period, the outcome was no longer in doubt.

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