On paper, Team Europe shouldn’t have stood a chance in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey Final, but as the saying goes: this is why they play the games. Boy did they ever make the final an interesting one.
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard,” Kevin Durant once said. Now, that’s not to say that Team Europe lacks talent, or that Canada didn’t try at all, but there is no denying which team worked harder in what threatened to be a snooze fest upset until the last five minutes of the game.
Team Canada came out better than in the previous game, but that was not to last. Unfortunately, the play rapidly settled down into a steady (and, sadly, rather dull) affair.
Despite the stronger start, Canada’s game lacked any sustained urgency, and their lackadaisical play came back to bite them. Team Europe opened the scoring 6:26 into the first, as the defence misread the situation, and Zdeno Chara put the puck past a heavily screened Price.
another angle of the Chara goal pic.twitter.com/45t3brFFyI— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 30, 2016
While Team Canada may have been asleep on the ice, Team Europe came to play, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of sloppy passes, their sticks and speed everywhere.
The period ended just 1-0 by the grace of Price alone, as Canada was outshot 12-8 despite having a (narrow) advantage on the power play.
Seconds into the second period, Hossa took a penalty against his regular-season captain, but though Canada got some chances, including a good Crosby chance, and two huge chances for Tavares, including one on a gaping net, Europe successfully killed the penalty.
The successful kill seemed to energize team Europe, and they swarmed the Canadian zone, and again Carey Price was the only reason the score remained 1-0 after the European siege.
Jaroslav Halak and Price traded spectacular saves with five minutes left in the period, holding off Corey Perry and Thomas Vanek, respectively.
Team Europe gave all Habs fans a scare, as Hossa fell over Price, but fortunately for Canada and the Canadiens, he appeared none the worse for the spill.
ref cam view of Hossa almost beheading Price pic.twitter.com/o6Kb5in6c5— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 30, 2016
Steven Stamkos nearly tied up the game in the dying seconds of the second, but lost his footing spectacularly, and the score remained unchanged after two, advantage decidedly Team Europe.
Sometimes you miss. Sometimes, you whiff. Sometimes, you go full comedy fail. Stamkos wasn't even Stam-close on this one! pic.twitter.com/OPsxL57hNl— Paul Campbell (@WayToGoPaul) September 30, 2016
The third period began with a great deal more urgency from the Stamkos and Toews line, and a few minutes later, a Josi penalty sent the Canadians to the man advantage. Unfortunately, the severely snake-bitten Canadian power play was unable to capitalize, even conceding a strong European shift in their own end.
With twelve minutes left in the third, Team Canada finally woke up, and pressed furiously for a few shifts in a row, temporarily getting the crowd back into the game. Crosby had a classic Crosby shift at about the five minute mark, but neither he nor Shea Weber could beat the rock solid Halak.
Team Canada’s intensity forced Anze Kopitar to take a penalty about a minute later, and Patrice Bergeron tipped in Burns’ pointshot. The rally appeared doomed, however, as Doughty took a very weak penalty. Team Europe swarmed the net, but Carey Price proved to the world exactly why he is the best goalie in hockey.
Team Europe said they needed to play the perfect game to beat Canada — and they nearly did. However, with less than a minute left in the game, Brad Marchand snuck in short-handed all by himself, and absolutely wired one past Halak to win the game.
Carey Price and Team Canada are the undefeated champions of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.