If there was any doubt at all lingering in anyone’s minds as to whether these players are taking the tournament seriously, I think they can all be put to rest. These supposed “friendlies” have been anything but, with superstars throwing themselves down to block shots or racing to negate icings, and the rivalry between Canada and the USA already boiling right out of the gate.
After the smash-fest that was the first Canada-USA match-up, Tortorella put up the aggressive Abdelkader-Kesler-Oshie line to start the game. However, Canada was more than ready for them, sending out Getzlaf, Perry and John Tavares, the latter of whom lowered the boom on Ryan Kesler within the first seconds of the period.
Overall, the game was much slower, unsurprising given the fact that this was the second game of a back-to-back, right after the off season, and that the first game was such a physical affair.
The Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line gave Team USA fits in their own end, but it would be Steven Stamkos who had the biggest chance in the opening five minutes. Kyle Palmieri went to the box for roughing against Matt Duchene, and the Canadians went on the powerplay. Despite the man advantage, Blake Wheeler nearly had a breakaway, and Canada could only muster one shot.
Canada got some excellent zone time, exhibiting some excellent passing, and returned to the powerplay as Suter was sent off for highsticking Giroux. Though the USA penalty kill was strong, with JVR threatening shorthanded on one end, Logan Couture scored Canada’s first powerplay goal on a beautiful backhand going the other way.
Barely seconds later, Canada would find itself again on the powerplay as Zach Parise was sent of for tripping, again against Giroux. The man advantage would evaporate as Joe Thornton absolutely leveled Kesler. Clearly Canada had no thoughts of backing down from the USA’s physicality.
Stamkos nearly made the score 2-0 on a breakaway, but Schneider caught the puck before it could trickle past him.
Derek Stepan would be exiled to the box for interference, thereafter, and Tavares scored on the tail end of the 4-3.
A criminally underused Pacioretty set up a breakaway on Holtby, but the Canadian netminder turned it aside with ease, and Jay Bouwmeester came back on the next shift, and made it 3-0 Canada.
The triumph was short lived, however, as Ryan McDunough was credited with the goal that bounced in off Shea Weber, and Bouwmeester went to the box for interference. Palmieri had a big chance, and Canada would go down 5-3 as they got dinged for too many men. Team USA piled on the pressure in the dying seconds of the first, and a desperate Canada took another penalty as Doughty wrestled Kane away from the puck. However, they’d escape the period still with a 3-1 lead.
Team USA opened the second period on the two man advantage, and they delivered as John Carlson put the puck away with authority. Brad Marchand nearly had a breakaway shorthanded, but Suter took him down, and found himself in the box again, though the penalty was killed without event.
The parade to the penalty box continued as Tavares and Pavelski were both sent off for roughing. The Americans largely had the advantage in zone time, but the teams would return to full strength with no change in score.
Bouwmeester continued to prove a valuable addition the the lineup, throwing himself in front of a Byfuglilen slapshot, and Seguin and Duchene got a jump start after Babcock moved them to Thornton’s wings. Together, the trio gave Pacioretty and the Americans a good deal of trouble in their own end.
Half-way through the period, Corey Crawford came in for Holtby, as planed, and the new look Seguin and Duchene line gave him a two goal buffer as Seguin fought off T.J. Oshie and made a stellar pass to Duchene.
Pretty sick setup by Seguin, great shot by Duchene pic.twitter.com/E7J2eEtQb9— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 11, 2016
Crawford got some cheers of his own as he flashed the leather on James van Riemsdyk, who again got in uncontested.
Pacioretty and the fourth line turned up the heat for a long shift, but Duchene and the Canadian defenders fought them off in the final five minutes of the period. Stamkos had his second big chance of the game after an explosive rush up the ice, but was thwarted on the rebound. Pacioretty’s line again put the pressure on, but the shift ended in a Canadian powerplay as Palmieri highsticked Duchene.
The second period ended in mayhem as Perry, Thornton and Abdelkader ended up in a heated tussle.
The third period opened with Ben Bishop in net for the USA, with two minutes of 4-on-4, and then an American powerplay, as Perry got a double minor for charging and roughing against Abdelkader, and Abdelkader got dinged for roughing.
The crowd showed their appreciation for Crawford, as he made to make a visually spectacular save to preserve the two goal lead.
2 angles of crawford's latest save pic.twitter.com/0BIdO8K8u9— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 11, 2016
The parade to the penalty box continued, as JVR served USA’s delay of the game penalty, and after way too much passing, John Tavares got himself his second powerplay goal of the night on an absolutely incredible play from Stamkos.
Oshie and Marchand got into a tussle on the boards, and Marchand found himself in the penalty box, but Crawford and the Canadian penalty kill put it away with relative ease. The USA in their turn found themselves short handed on a too many men penalty, but Bishop likewise stood tall.
In the dying minutes of the game, Pacioretty had another good chance, but was thwarted by Doughty, and the game ended in a scrum behind Crawford’s net, a convincing 5-2 Canadian victory.
These two teams will meet again on September 20, and you can bet the game will be a good one.