Canada Rolls Past Germany
Canada will avoid another terrible start to the men's World Hockey Championship after beating Germany 5-3 on Friday.
Canada is always expected to do well, but started the tournament 0-3 last year – including a loss to the Germans – before turning things around and winning gold.
The fun started for the Canadians at 8:06 when Cole Sillinger got the bouncing puck from Josh Anderson and made it 1-0. Nine minutes later, Pierre-Luc Dubois doubled the advantage to 2-0 with his first of the game.
Germany's Marc Michaelis scored at 27:24 after Moritz Seider put a perfectly placed shot off of Logan Thompson's pad and to Michaelis in front to cut the lead in half.
But from there, it was all Canada. Dubois had his second of the night after the puck bounced around and eventually went off his foot and in to make it 3-1. Kent Johnson scored his first World Championship goal two minutes later on the power play to make it 4-1, with San Jose Sharks defenseman Noah Gregor pinching in to score his first national team goal ever to give Canada a four-goal lead.
A pair of power-play goals from Germany put some fear in Canada in the third. Mattias Plachta's wrist shot at 41:13 from Tim Stutzle made it 5-2, while Seider scored one of his own on the power play – also from a Seider feed – to make it 5-3 with 7:25 to go. Germany pulled its goalie with just under three minutes to go, but Thompson kept every shot out and held on for the win.
Slovakia Avoids French Comeback
Slovakia's attempt to build upon a bronze medal at the 2022 Olympics nearly ended in disaster, but they ultimately beat France 4-2 in a close affair.
At one point, it wasn't looking like a close game. Pavol Regenda scored the lone goal of the first and Toma Tatar scored at 21:54 to make it 2-0. But a pair of goals from Anthony Rech and Jordann Perrett about six minutes apart forced Slovakia into a tough spot.
Perrett, in particular, scored a highlight-reel goal after Yohann Auvitu set the puck down the ice from the side of the French net to Valentin Claireaux, who made a beautiful tip pass out to Perrett for the breakaway goal.
France had momentum, and nearly beat Patrik Rybar again, but Samuel Takac's goal with two minutes remaining in the second gave Slovakia the lead once again. Regenda's empty-netter helped seal the deal for Slovakia, who carried a similar roster to the one that medaled in Beijing.
Latvia No Match for USA
A three-goal first period helped set the tone as the United States eventually skated to a 4-1 win over Latvia to open play.
It'll be a quick turnaround for Latvia, who plays the hosts from Finland in the evening game tomorrow. USA will have a day off before facing Austria on Sunday.
Latvia needed its goaltending, but they got the exact opposite after a rough first period for Elvis Merzlikins.
Riley Barber scored on an Andrew Peeke point shot at 7:11, only to have Seth Jones score a power-play goal on a shot that Merzlikins moved too slow on.
Then, at 11:36, San Jose Sharks prospect Thomas Bordeleau scored a shorthanded marker when he one-handed the puck through Merzlikins' five-hole on a play where he was trying to pass the puck to Seth Jones on an odd-man rush.
Latvia elected to keep Merzlikins in the net for the second, and Sam Lafferty scored to make it 4-0 just 33 seconds into the middle stanza for the big advantage. Latvia got a power-play goal 1:47 into the third from Andris Dzerins, but it was the only marker they got on the board and it didn't ultimately make a difference.
Finland Shuts Out Norway at Home
A fierce matchup between two rivals teams ended up with the hosts from Finland taking a 5-0 win over Norway.
The game was highlighted by a rare fight, with Finland's Saku Maenalanen and Magnus Brekke of Norway dropping the gloves late in the third period. Both were ejected from the game.
On the scoring front, Harri Pesonen had the opening period's lone goal after taking Joel Armia's pass near the side of the net and fooling Henrik Haukeland.
At 31:37, Toni Rajala doubled the lead, with Hanne Bjorninen adding one himself at 36:06. Armia added a goal at 41:36 to conclude the scoring in a one-sided contest on the scoresheet. Jere Sallinen scored a late goal to make it 5-0 to give the local fans one more reason to celebrate.
News & Notes:
- Caleb Jones was injured in USA's pre-tournament game against Canada and will return home to Chicago. The Blackhawks have 23 players in Finland, with 20 registered, and can have a 25-man roster, so the team will likely address it in the coming days with more NHL teams getting eliminated.
1. Seth Jones, D (USA): Jones had a goal and an assist and almost scored another early goal in the first, too. A great start for the Chicago Blackhawks defender.
2. Moritz Seider, D (GER): With three points in the first game, Seider is already tied for the tournament scoring lead. Not bad for the Calder Trophy favorite.
3. Juraj Slafkovsky, F (SVK): With two assists, Slafkovsky showed up in a big way after leading the Olympics in goals earlier this year. Prospect watchers, keep an eye on Slovakia.