Four days into the World Cup of Hockey and we have our first official casualty. Team Finland are on the brink of an exit but after a second loss Team USA is officially out of the tournament after losses to Europe and Team Canada.
Before we talk about the US loss, let’s talk about the early game between Scandinavian
rivals Sweden and Finland.
Sweden came into their second game on the back of a close 2 – 1 victory of Russia on Sunday night while Finland struggled in a 4 – 1 loss to North America, making this game almost a must win.
Thew two sides played to a scoreless first, one of the best chances came early from Finland, a shot from the boards by Mikael Granlund was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist and Tuevo Teravainen was alone in front but he couldn’t direct the puck anyway other than the stick of Lundqvist on the rebound which saw his effort turned aside.
Late in the period the Swedes went close as Washington Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom brought the puck to the middle of the circle and fired a quick wrist shot which ricocheted of the post and back out to keep it tied at nothing at the end of 20 minutes.
Midway into the second and the deadlock was broken, some great cycling by the twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin set up Anton Stralman in front of Tuukka Rask – who started over Pekka Rinne – Stralman was alone in front of net and fired a low shot from in close to give the Swedes a one goal lead.
Closing out the period the Finns were on the powerplay and that’s when Winnipeg Jets prospect Patrik Laine was robbed by Henrik Lundqvist, something that he’ll get used to when he makes the NHL. A pass across the zone set up the 2016 2nd overall pick with a onetime that was gloved by the Rangers goalie, just one of his 36 saves on the night.
Finland continued to press midway through the third period, searching for that game tying goal by Lundqvist was lights out, stopping Mikko Koivu from in close then getting some help from his defenseman Erik Karlsson on the rebound as he blocked Mikael Granlund’s effort.
With time winding down and 2.6 seconds left in the game, Finland were up a man with Rask on the bench and that’s when new Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson sent the puck the length of the ice, into the cage and sealing a 2 – 0 victory for Sweden that almost guarantees them a spot in the semi-finals and means Finland will have to wait for the result of today’s meeting between the Swedes and North Americans to see if they’re eliminated or not before their final game.
The late game set up North American rivals Canada and USA. In the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, USA were the down as the “home” team but the “away” fans were loud and cheering on the tournament hosts Canada as they looked to secure their place in the semi finals.
After a tough loss for the Americans in game one, they came out strong in the opening part of the first period and with less than five minutes played they were on the board.
A great rush down the ice set up Ryan McDonaugh in front of the net to battle and tuck home the rebound, giving the USA a 1 – 0 lead and being the first team to beat Carey Price in a Canadian Jersey since Latvia’s Lauris Darzin’s did in the quarter finals of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Not phased by giving up the early goal, Canada quickly started biting back and trying to tie the game, with the teams fourth line on the ice just over a minute and a half later, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic fired a shot from the point that bounced off the end boards favourably to Matt Duchene who beat his defenseman to tap in the rebound to make it a tied game.
It took just a matter of fourteen seconds for the next goal, right off the face off Canada pressed, Logan Couture skated with the puck down the boards before putting a backhander towards the net with was stopped by the blocker of Jonathan Quick, only to be deflected into the body of Corey Perry and into the back of the net. USA coach John Tortorella challenged the call but unlike a goal that was ruled out in the US’s opening game where James van Riemsdyk seemed to try to deflect the puck with his body, ruling it no goal, Perry didn’t make any distinct motion to direct the puck meaning the goal stood and Canada led 2 – 1.
Canada didn’t let up and quickly pressed to keep up the pressure, inside 10 minutes left a botched clearance attempt by Max Pacioretty set up Matt Duchene alone in front who slid the puck between the legs of Quick for his second of the night and a 3 – 1 lead going into the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, John Tavares showed off his skill on a brilliant move past the US defense, bearing down on net he played the puck across the crease where the puck bounced of the skate of Patrice Bergeron and onto the blade of Ryan McDonaugh and over the line to make it a 4 – 1 game.
With less than three minutes to play in the game, USA managed to get another on the board through T.J. Oshie but it came to nothing as the horn sounded closing out the Americans tournament after just two games, leading Pittsburgh Penguins forward and notable absentee for Team USA to throw some shade at the team that didn’t pick him for the tournament.
With the win Canada advance to the semi-finals but will have to battle against Team Europe to see who tops Group A in the late game tonight.
With just four games left of the round-robin format, both Canada and Europe are guaranteed to advance from Group A while all four teams in Group B are mathematically still in it, but it’s looking likely the Sweden will advance and be joined by either Russia or North America.