Canada has always been the team the United States has struggled to beat. On Saturday, the Americans did just that.
Jack Johnson scored at 1:47 of overtime to give the United States a 5-4 victory against Canada at the World Championships -- just the second win for the Americans against Canada at the tournament in 18 games since 1985, and only the fourth in 42 games since 1931.
"It's an easy game to get up for," Team USA goaltender Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings said. "You're having fun out there, and that's exactly what it was today -- fun. It's great to get a good start. We're now 2-0, and we just have to build off it."
With John Tavares in the penalty box for delay of game after batting the puck into the crowd with 1.1 seconds left in regulation, Johnson won it when he snapped a wrist shot past Cam Ward for his second goal of the game.
"It's never fun to lose," Ward told the IIHF's website, "no matter if it's in regulation or on overtime. They scored a big goal to force it into OT and we took a bad break on the penalty to give them an opportunity to score."
The goal capped a back-and-forth game at Helsinki's Hartwall Arena in which neither team was able to lead by more than one goal. The Americans (2-0-0, 5 points) outshot Canada 46-34.
"The best team won tonight," Team Canada coach Brent Sutter said.
The Americans opened the scoring 1:10 into the game off a harmless-looking rush. Jim Slater carried the puck into the Canadian zone and fired a shot through a maze of players in front that beat Ward cleanly.
Canada (1-0-1, 4 points) tied the game at 6:38 on a pretty goal. The puck came back to the point to Duncan Keith, who spotted Tavares alone in front and hit him with a quick pass. Tavares waited out Howard, then scored on a backhander.
Canada weathered two penalties in the first half of the second period, then took the lead thanks to a nice play by Tavares. He and Jeff Skinner came in on a 2-on-2 break; Tavares crisscrossed and left the puck for Skinner, who ripped a shot past Howard's blocker to make it 2-1 Canada at 7:34.
But the penalties caught up to Canada later in the period. Johnson, the team captain, picked up a loose puck and beat Ward at 13:54 with Andrew Ladd in the box for tripping.
Canada got a power play early in the third period, but Team USA took the lead when Patrick Dwyer stuffed the puck past Ward on a shorthanded wraparound at 6:43. Canada got even at 9:51 when Evander Kane fired a wrister over Howard's glove.
The U.S. went ahead again with 3:41 left in regulation to go when Nate Thompson got his own rebound and backhanded a dribbler over the goal line. But with 1:39 left, Keith ripped a slap shot past Howard to tie the score 4-4.
Both teams have Sunday off before playing Monday. The Americans, now 2-0-0, play Slovakia, while Canada takes on France.