Power play helps Canada beat USA
Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist as Canada opened the World Cup of Hockey with a fast-paced 2-1 victory over the United States on Tuesday night in which emotion ran high and goaltenders shone.
The game that saw Canada's 38-year-old captain Mario Lemieux go after American Steve Konowalchuk for running goaltender Martin Brodeur also had a player from each side leave with undisclosed injuries - defenceman Ed Jovanovski for Canada and U.S. veteran Mike Modano.Both were said to have lower body injuries and were to be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
Joe Sakic also scored for Canada, which controlled the game at both ends of the ice for the first 25 minutes before lifting its foot from the accelerator and letting the Americans back in the contest. ``I thought in the first period we came out hard, were physical and were quick,' Jarome Iginla told CBC. ``Then they battled back, a combination of us not being as quick and them getting better.'
Bill Guerin scored for the U.S., which beat Canada 5-2 in the final of the inaugural World Cup in 1996 in the same building.``They came out hungrier then we were, way more intense,' said U.S. coach Ron Wilson. ``Fortunately Robert Esche was on top of things ... we needed our goaltender to keep us in there.'
Canada plays its second game of the round robin portion of the eight-team tournament Wednesday night against Slovakia (CBC, 7. p.m. EDT), also at the Bell Centre. The Americans play Russia on Thursday night in St. Paul, Minn.
Canada led 2-1 at 16:03 of the second frame but the Americans were pouring on the pressure
when Konowalchuk came in hard and bumped Brodeur in the crease.
There were big hits on both sides that led to chants and noise from the mostly red and white clad capacity Bell Centre crowd of 21,273, which included Prime Minister Paul Martin. Fans were at a fever pitch for much of the game.
Canada came out with a new look - replica jerseys, gold coloured with a red maple leaf, of those worn by the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons, the first Olympic hockey gold medallists. And by early in the second period, Canada had a 2-0 lead and was outshooting the Americans 24-6, although total shots ended up at 32-24.
For most of the first period, it looked like goaltender Robert Esche would emulate Mike Richter's 1996 heroics against Canada, but St. Louis finally beat him at 16:01 on a power play.Quick passes down low by Joe Thornton and Niedermayer fed St. Louis in the slot for a high shot just inside the post.
Canada was on another power play when Sakic's point shot hit Chris Drury's leg and bounced past the screened Esche 3:05 into the second frame. Looking comfortably in the lead, Canada let up and the Americans got back into the game on Guerin's goal at 10:40, when he had time to gain control of a pass from Scott Gomez and whip a quick high shot past Brodeur's glove side.
Brodeur was run again in the third period by Halpern, but cooler heads prevailed.<
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Brad Pascall Vice-President, Hockey Operations