CANADA TAKES GAME 1 OF WORLD CUP FINAL
TORONTO – It wasn’t pretty, and it definitely wouldn’t win any style points, but it was enough to win the game.
Canada wasn’t at its best Tuesday night, but it found the offence it needed and got great goaltending from Carey Price (Anahim Lake, B.C./Montreal, NHL) to defeat Team Europe 3-1 in Game 1 of the best-of-three final series of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Brad Marchand (Hammonds Plains, N.S./Boston, NHL), with his team-leading fourth goal, Steven Stamkos (Markham, Ont./Tampa Bay, NHL) and Patrice Bergeron (Ancienne-Lorette, Que./Boston, NHL) all scored for Canada.
Marchand added an assist. Sidney Crosby (Cole Harbour, N.S./Pittsburgh, NHL) had two helpers and now has a tournament-best nine points.
Price finished with 32 saves.
Tomas Tatar scored for Team Europe. Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves in the loss.
Team Europe seemed to get the quick start it needed to overcome its underdog status. Right off the opening face-off, it crashed the Canadian crease and drew a cross-checking penalty on Marchand.
But no sooner had Canada killed off the penalty then Crosby sprung Bergeron behind the defence; Bergeron sent a short pass across to Marchand, who made it 1-0 only 12 seconds after being allowed back on the ice.
Later in the period Ryan Getzlaf (Regina, Sask./Anaheim, NHL) picked Zdeno Chara’s pocket along the side boards. On the ensuing rush he fed Stamkos at the side of the net for an easy tap in.
Team Europe dominated the offensive chances early in the second and was rewarded for their assertive play seven minutes in, when Tatar put home a rebound in front.
The crowd grew restless with Canada’s listless play as the period wore on. An offensive push thanks to a late power play opportunity and some momentum built from that allowed the team to finally gain an advantage in shots on net, 17-11 for the period and 26-24 to that point in the game.
Canada came out stronger to start the third period. Less than two minutes in, Stamkos picked off Halak’s pass behind the net and fed John Tavares (Mississauga, Ont./New York Islanders, NHL) out front. Moments later Ryan O’Reilly (Clinton, Ont./Buffalo, NHL) jumped on the ice undetected and got off an unmarked shot in the slot, but hit Halak squarely in the chest.
Crosby found Bergeron out front midway through the final period to finally give Canada some breathing room.
Canada can clinch the World Cup with a win on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).