The World Cup’s pre-tournament games officially opened Thursday with a triple-header, and the afternoon games, featuring Sweden taking on Finland and Russia squaring off against the Czech Republic, were both tight-checking, closely contested matchups.
Unfortunately for Team Europe, the same can’t be said for their evening affair against Team North America. The so-called “young stars” team handily defeated Europe, 4-0, in the debut for both clubs, and the speed and skill of the North American squad was evident. No other point in the game showcased the North American team’s best attributes better than Nathan MacKinnon’s third period penalty-shot goal.
Midway through the final frame, MacKinnon took a pass out of the defensive zone and cut wide on Europe defenseman Mark Streit. MacKinnon’s speed forced Streit to turn and, when MacKinnon had a step, Streit wrapped his stick around MacKinnon and hauled him down.
On the ensuing penalty shot, MacKinnon used about four or five head fakes, shoulder fakes and quick dekes to shake Europe goaltender Jaroslav Halak before burying a backhand. Take a look:
MacKinnon’s goal brought the crowd to its feet and they cheered his effort, which the former Halifax Mooseheads star laughed about after the game. According to NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin, MacKinnon quipped that he used to get “booed when I played junior here” following the game.
MacKinnon’s dazzling effort would be the final goal of the contest for the North American squad, but more than enough to secure the victory.
Europe will get another shot at slowing down the speedy North American side when the two teams play in their respective second pre-tournament game Sunday evening.
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