HAMILTON, ONTARIO, SEPT. 15 -- Mario Lemieux's 11th goal of the tournament with only 1 minute 26 seconds remaining lifted Canada to a 6-5 victory over the Soviet Union tonight in the championship game of the fourth Canada Cup.

The teams appeared to be heading for a third straight overtime when two backpedalling Soviet defenders fell to give Canada a three-on-one break. Lemieux, set up at the finish by Wayne Gretzky, did not miss.

"I thought he {Gretzky} was going to pass to {Larry} Murphy and I guess they did, too," Lemieux said. "It was the greatest thrill of my life to be part of this team. I did the things I do best and I was there at the right moments."

Lemieux also had scored the winner Sunday as Canada evened the series in a thriller that required 30:07 of sudden-death play. Gretzky set that one up, too, and with tonight's victory he was fulfilling a promise to his grandmother, who celebrated her 85th birthday today. He skipped practice Monday to visit her.

Besides taking part in the decisive rush, Murphy recorded a goal and two assists as Canada, which enjoyed a 46-23 shooting edge, rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead. The Soviets' Aleksandr Semak tied it with 7:39 left.

Afterward, players skated around the ice waving a huge Canadian flag while the sellout crowd of 17,037 first cheered uproariously, then joined in the ceremonial "O Canada" that honored the victors.

The dressing room was full of happy Canadians spraying champagne and Washington winger Mike Gartner said, "Isn't this great? Can you believe it's only Sept. 15? Well, we've got a taste of it, anyway."

Gartner was outstanding on a Canadian penalty-killing unit that neutralized the potent Soviet power play on all four opportunities. And Murphy, his Washington teammate, was an important cog on a power-play unit that clicked twice in five tries and got the comeback rolling.

"I guess it was meant to be," Murphy said. "Every game they came back against us, but this time the clock ran out on them. It was a big relief. There was quite a bit of pressure on us."

When the Soviets jumped to a 3-0 lead, an entire country figured to be feeling miserable. But Gartner said there was never a feeling that Canada could not catch up.

"We were there before," Gartner said. "We wanted to get them down, but it didn't work out that way and who's to say this might not have been best. They have so much respect for us that I really felt when they were ahead, they were playing not to lose. It took away from their game and gave us a chance to come back."

Rick Tocchet, playing despite a bruised left knee, started the comeback on a power-play rebound after Murphy's initial shot handcuffed Soviet goalie Sergei Mylnikov.

Brian Propp made it 3-2 on a deflection of Brent Sutter's attempted stuff from behind, but with only 28 seconds left in the first period, Andrei Khomutov scored on a breakaway after Sergei Makarov had hooked puck carrier Ray Bourque without a penalty call.

Canada struck back with three goals in the second period, when it was allowed to roam relatively unharnessed by referee Don Koharski. Koharski, put in an extremely difficult spot because he is Canadian, declined to call such blatant fouls as a punch to the face by Craig Hartsburg, a post-whistle elbow by Mark Messier, a post-goal slash by Brian Propp and a high stick by Normand Rochefort on which Soviet linesman Michael Galinovski fingered the culprit for him.

Soviet center Viacheslav Bykov was sent off for tripping, however, and Murphy, off a Gretzky pass, whipped the puck between Mylnikov's legs from the right-wing circle for the power-play goal that made it 4-3. Then Sutter converted Dale Hawerchuk's pass from behind the Soviet net to tie it.

Hawerchuk, on a second-effort stuff from behind, gave Canada the lead for the first time at 15:32 of the second period. Over the next 17 minutes, Canada had many chances to apply the clincher, but couldn't do it as Propp, Gretzky and Lemieux missed the net and Mylnikov foiled Paul Coffey on a breakaway.

Then Andrei Lomakin, skating along the goal line, faked a trip behind the net and instead made a backhand pass to Semak in front to tie it.

"I was more worried when they tied it than when we were three goals down," Murphy said. "I knew we had guys who could score, but when it's tied with 7 1/2 minutes to go, anything can happen."

Once again, it was Lemieux who made it happen.