Canada 2 - United States 1
RIGA, Latvia – The youngest and oldest players on Canada's roster provided the goals in a 2-1 win over the United States at the World Hockey Championship on Tuesday.
Sidney Crosby scored his tournament-leading fourth goal and captain Brendan Shanhan netted the winner in the third period to power Canada to its third straight win. Canada finished the preliminary round with a 3-0 record and takes the maximum four points into the qualifying round.
Canada plays Latvia in the opening game of the qualifying round on Thursday.
The Americans scored first, with Phil Kessel tapping a rebound behind goalie Alex Auld, who was making his second straight start, at 13:53 of the opening period. Kessel plays for the University of Minnesota and will be a top five pick in the NHL Draft in June.
His goal marked the first time in the world tournament that the Canadians trailed and the lead lasted until just before the midway point of the game. Canada tied the score with Patrice Bergeron feeding Crosby, his linemate, with a smart pass at centre. Crosby got in behind the U.S. defense and stuck out his left leg to protect the puck as he moved in on goalie Jason Bacashihua. Crosby finished the play with a hard backhand shot that breezed between the goalie's legs at 9:01.
The Canadians were on a power play in the third when Shanahan showed why he's a predator when it comes to scoring goals. Bacashihua made the initial save on a low shot but Shanahan pounced on the rebound before the goalie could grab it and he tapped the puck into an open net for the winner at 7:44 of the third.
The Canadians also benefited from strong penalty killing. The United States went 0-for-7 on the power play, including twice when they enjoyed a two-man advantage. Crosby had a couple of other great scoring chances turned aside by the U.S. netminder. The best came late in the first period when Crosby's wrist shot rang off the post.
Crosby and Bergeron are tied for the tournament's scoring lead, with seven points apiece.
Stephane Robidas was named the player for the game for Canada after turning in a defensive gem.
The Canadians wore their black third jerseys, which will be auctioned off on www.ebay.ca after the tournament to raise money to support grassroots hockey.
Preview: Canada and the United States have identical 2-0 records after they each started the tournament with victories over Norway and Denmark. The Canadians and Americans have entered young teams in the world tournament and the Americans, who do not have as much depth as their opponents, want to use the game as a measuring stick going into the qualifying round. There is a prize to play for. The winner will finish stop the D Group and will play the third place team in A group (either Latvia or Slovenia) in the opening game of the three-game qualifying round later in the week. The loser plays the top team in A group. Both teams have plenty of speed and what fans will see in a North American style of game on a bigger ice surface. The United States has become a fierce rival for any Canadian team in any tournament and there's more than two points on the board when these teams meet.
Players to watch:
Canada: Brendan Shanahan brings veteran leadership to Team Canada and that is why he was named team captain. Shanahan has three Stanley Cup rings, an Olympic gold medal, a gold medal from the 1994 world championships and one from the '91 Canada Cup. On this version of Team Canada, he is the only player born in the 1960s. Watch for Shanahan to step his game up a couple of notches.
United States: Phil Kessel of the University of Michigan went into this season as the
consensus top pick in the June NHL draft but he's slipped a little in the eyes of various scouting services.
But Kessel could still end up being the top pick in the draft. He is an offensive
Prognosis: Canada should win its third straight game because it has more talent and depth than their North American rivals.
by Alan Adams
For more information:
Brad Pascall Vice-President, Hockey Operations