Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Canada escapes USA with one-goal victory, wins Pool A

Zachary Fucale made 24 stops, while Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar netted power-play scores in the early portion of the third period, and Canada came away with a 3-2 victory over Team USA on Tuesday to win Group A.

The Canadians (3-0-1-0) ended up being saved by their shootout loss to the Czechs, as that loss beyond regulaton gave them an extra point that vaulted them over the defending champions. Taking a page from their American counterparts, eight different players recorded at least one point for the victors.

Nic Petan scored late in the second to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Riley Barber opened the scoring just shy of the 3 1/2-minute mark of the middle stanza, and Stefan Matteau tallied with 2:45 remaining.

But the swift Canadians, playing at a pace and with a skill that the Red, White and Blue had not seen thus far in the tournament, began to take control and eventually penalties which result from such speed on the rush and in transition came their way.

McDavid gave Canada the lead for good with 3:54 played in the third and Lazar provided the crucial insurance tally at 6:13.

Fucale got some help as an American chance with 9 1/2 minutes left trickled behind him, but did not cross the goal line. He then made a superb stop on a Connor Carrick breakaway with 5:20 to play.

Jon Gillies, who stopped 20 shots in defeat, was pulled for an extra attacker with roughly a minute to play, but his countrymen (3-1-0) couldn't push the contest to an extra session. The Americans finished with 21 goals in group play, tied for second-most among all nations.

The quarterfinal matchups are set, and they will kick off Thursday morning. Team USA faces Russia at 6 AM Eastern time, while Canada plays Switzerland five hours later.

Other quarters are Czech Republic vs. Finland and Slovakia vs. Sweden. In addition, Norway and Germany begin their best-of-three relegation round series.

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