Canada Inches Closer to Title With Final Series Opening Victory

Canada Inches Closer to Title With Final Series Opening Victory

Steven Ellis28 Sep 2016Steven Ellis»

Canada will have a chance to wrap up the World Cup of Hockey title on Thursday after defeating Team Europe by a score of 3-1 in game one on Tuesday.


Canada will have a chance to wrap up the World Cup of Hockey title on Thursday after defeating Team Europe by a score of 3-1 in game one on Tuesday.

Canada may have gotten out shot 13-9 in the first period, but that didn't stop them from taking the 2-0 lead. Before the period was even three minutes old, Brad Marchand made up for taking an early penalty by one-timing a cross-crease pass from Boston Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron for the 1-0 goal early.

Then, with seven minutes to go, Canada got another very similar goal. This time around, Ryan Getzlaf set up Steven Stamkos on the right post, quickly sending the puck over Halak's pad and in for the two-goal advantage heading into the first intermission.

Europe looked like the hungrier team in the first half of the game, and their hard work finally would get rewarded. At the seven minute mark of the second, Dennis Siedenberg took a hard shot on net, only to have Carey Price deflect it away. Tomas Tatar, who scored the game winning goal in overtime to send Europe to the final, was there to pick up the loose disk and beat out the Canadian goaltender to put Europe on the board.

With the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team in an attempt to make the playoffs just down the street, the atmosphere was not what one would expect at the Air Canada Centre. The lower bowl, which saw seats fall down to nearly $20 around the start of the match, was home to many empty seats and a lack of high-energy cheering you'd expect to hear at the arena for a Team Canada match.

Canada brought the crowd to life near the halfway point in the third. After having the better chances early in the period, Sidney Crosby got the puck out to Bergeron in front of the net after getting stopped on a chance of his own, beating Halak with the one-timer from the slot to make it 3-1 Canada. It proved to be too much for Europe, who didn't have enough to beat Price again in a 3-1 victory for the Canadians.

Canada was quick to point out that Europe was no slouch, despite two wins in two games against them in the tournament.

"They forced us to play hard and make mistakes," Crosby said following the game. "We probably could have done a better job managing the puck, especially in the first two periods."

"You're not going to play your best hockey every night," Getzlaf said. "It was just one of those ugly games where we found a way to win."

"They definitely gave us the biggest scare in a way," said defenseman Drew Doughty. "They're a really good team and we have to play better."

Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos had struggled offensively throughout the tournament, but was happy to finally get one in the back of the net.

“I knew it was a matter of time before one goes in," said Stamkos. "I want to say I was saving them for the end.”

While much of Canada had a negative outlook following the contest, European head coach Ralph Krueger still saw positives in his team's loss.

"We're a good checking team," said Krueger. "Everybody is involved.  Our forwards are working so hard back, and a lot of those takeaways are creating transition opportunities, and that's our weakness right now is taking opportunity of those."

The two teams will meet for the second time on Thursday night at 8:00 PM, a game that could see Canada win the World Cup championship. If needed, game three will be played on Saturday night at 7:00 PM.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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