Canada gets scare, outlasts Europe in World Cup Game 1

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Getty Images
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TORONTO – Before Game 1 of their best-of-three World Cup of Hockey final, Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger offered a mission statement for his players.

“We want to make it difficult for Canada to win the World Cup. We’d like to get in the way of that,” he said.

Mission almost accomplished. Team Europe, made up of non-North American players who didn’t have national teams in the World Cup, gave the Canadians their most difficult game of the tournament and biggest scare, before the host nation settled down for a 3-1 win on Tuesday night in Toronto.

Canada takes a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 of the series is on Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.

Once again, it was Canada’s dominant top line of Brad Marchand (1 goal, 1 assist), Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 1 assist), and Sidney Crosby (2 assists) that led the way.

Marchand continued to make the World Cup his bar mitzvah as an offensive star, notching his fourth goal of the tournament just 12 seconds after his minor penalty for cross-checking expired. Smartly trailing the play as Boston Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron skated, Marchand lifted the puck over goalie Jaroslav Halak (35 saves) for the 1-0 lead at 2:33 of the first.

Steven Stamkos scored his first of the tournament at 13:20 of the first period, but full credit goes to Ryan Getzlaf for making it happen.

The Anaheim Ducks center picked the pocket of Europe defenseman Zdeno Chara near center ice. He skated into the Europe zone, faked a shot and waiting for Stamkos to head to the net, where he hit him with a perfect pass for the 2-0 lead.

But Team Europe actually had the better of play in the first period, controlling both the puck and the tempo, outshooting the Canadians 13-9 and getting more shot attempts, 23-20.

They continued that strong play into the second period, which has traditionally been their best period of the tournament.

Tomas Tatar, who had the overtime goal against Sweden to propel Europe to the World Cup final, got a fortunate bounce as a puck deflected off Sidney Crosby. With the big bodies of Brent Burns and Marian Hossa screening him, Carey Price didn’t see Tatar slip through the slot and tuck the puck by him at 7:00 of the second.

For arguably the first time in the World Cup, Canada had to depend on Price to bail them out, making a save on Andrej Sekera on a breakaway with four minutes left in the second period and another good one on a Mark Streit blast from the blue line. Canada carried a 2-1 lead to the locker room.

As expected, Canada came out of that locker room on fire to start the third, outshooting Europe 9-5 in the first 10 minutes and getting their third goal. Bergeron scored on a brilliant bang-bang pass from Crosby for his second of the tournament.

Europe hung tough, but didn’t have enough to get back into it. Still, their play was light-years from their preliminary round smoking at the hands of Canada, who had 83 shot attempts in the 4-1 win. They established their tempo, sucked the life out of the building for two periods, made the most of Canada’s rare mistakes and got strong goaltending from giant-killer Jaroslav Halak.

It was the same formula they used to take out Team USA and Sweden earlier in the tournament, with one difference: Canada wasn’t about to overlook them in a championship round. And despite the scare, the Canadians are now one win away from the World Cup.


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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