Mission accomplished for the four Colorado Avalanche players on Team Canada.
Coming in as one of the favorites and with a 'gold or bust' attitude, the Canadians were looking to break their five-year medal-less drought at the IIHF World Championship. They did that and more as they put an exclamation point on an impressive overall effort at the 2015 tournament.
Canada ran away with the gold medal on Sunday in a 6-1 victory over defending champion Russia in the title game at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. It is Canada's first gold medal at the annual event since 2007 and its first medal of any kind since earning silver in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009. The nation had lost in the quarterfinals in each of the past five world championships.
The Avs' Nathan MacKinnon scored his fourth goal of the tournament while Tyson Barrie and Ryan O'Reilly each added an assist in the victory. Matt Duchene had two shots in 14:43 of ice time while centering Canada's third line with MacKinnon and Jason Spezza on his wings.
It should be no surprise that Canada finished as champions after its high-octane offense dominated the competition. The Canadians scored 66 goals while only giving up 15, which included a 17-1 scoring margin in three playoff games. They went a perfect 10-0, winning every game in regulation.
The championship is Canada's 25th at the tournament and caps off a 16-month period where the country won Olympic gold in both men's and women's ice hockey, a world junior championship and now a men's world title. Canada also won gold last time the tournament was held in the Czech Republic in 2004.
While Canada outshot Russia 15-5 in the first 20 minutes, the Russians did get their fair share of scoring opportunities in the first period. However, Canada entered the intermission up by one after Cody Eakin tallied with 1:50 remaining.
The 1-0 lead quickly improved to 2-0 as Tyler Ennis beat Russia goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky on a wraparound just 1:56 into the second period. Sidney Crosby scored on a quick shot from the left circle at 7:22, and Tyler Seguin picked up his ninth of the tournament after finishing a nice behind-the-back pass from Claude Giroux 44 seconds later.
Barrie assisted on Seguin's goal for his fifth helper and sixth point of the 10-game affair. He ended with a plus-12 rating, tied for third highest in the tournament.
Russia was outshot 14-1 in the middle frame, widening Canada's margin in the category to 29-6 after 40 minutes.
Giroux made it a 5-0 game with a power-play goal at 8:58 of the third period, finishing a beautiful passing sequence by Crosby and O'Reilly. With the puck down low, O'Reilly moved up to the half-wall in the offensive zone, switching places with Crosby, before passing to the Canada captain below the goal line. Crosby then found Giroux open across the slot.
The assist gives O'Reilly nine at the World Championship and brings his point total to 11 after he added two goals earlier in the two-week competition. His nine helpers were tied for the second most with teammate Brent Burns at the event.
MacKinnon finished the scoring for Canada 52 seconds after Giroux's tally on a shot from the left circle. The puck hit Bobrovsky in his left shoulder, hopped behind him and trickled into cage.
It was MacKinnon's ninth point (four goals, five assists) at the 2015 Worlds. He fired 18 total shots at the tournament, scoring on 22.22 percent of them.
Russia finally broke through Canada goalie Mike Smith on an Evgeni Malkin deflection in front with 7:13 remaining in the game. It was the first goal Smith had allowed in the playoff rounds after he posted a 9-0 shutout in the quarterfinals over Belarus and a perfect 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in the semifinals.
Duchene closed his fourth world championship tied for third overall in scoring with 12 points. He scored four goals and added eight assists and finished with a plus-10 rating.
The Colorado center is now one stage away from joining the Triple Gold Club for players who have won a Stanley Cup and gold medals at the World Championship and Olympics. Duchene won gold with Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
BRONZE MEDAL GAME
UNITED STATES (3) VS. CZECH REPUBLIC (0)
As Avalanche defenseman Zach Redmond returns home to the United States after his first international experience, he'll have some extra hardware in tow: a World Championship medal.
|Zach Redmond |
Two first-period goals and 39 saves from Connor Hellebuyck was all the U.S. needed in a 3-0 win over host Czech Republic in the bronze medal game on Sunday at O2 Arena in Prague. It is the Americans' second medal in three years at the World Championship after they also won bronze at the 2013 tournament in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland. The U.S. last accomplished the feat of winning two medals in three years in 1950 and 1952 when it won two silvers.
Redmond appeared in his fifth game at the World Championship while playing 8:45 and finishing with a plus-1 rating as the United States' seventh defenseman, a role he was in throughout the tournament. The 2015 competition marked the first time Redmond played for USA Hockey in an international competition. He finished with one assist, two penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating in five games.
Nick Bonino and Trevor Lewis gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead in the first period after Bonino tallied at 7:25 and Lewis with 1:47 left.
Shots were tied 11-11 after the opening 20 minutes, but the Czechs dominated the category for the rest of the game. The Czech Republic outshot the U.S. 28-5 in the final two periods, but couldn't get anything past Hellebuyck.
|Jan Hejda |
Czech and Avs defenseman Jan Hejda had one shot in 14:04 of ice time.
Charlie Coyle added an insurance tally for the Americans with his third goal in five games with 49.8 seconds left in the second period.
The United States is now 4-3 in bronze medal games at the World Championship. The national team also won the bronze at the 2004 tournament in Prague when it defeated Slovakia 1-0.
USA posted an 8-1-0-1 record at the 2014 competition. The team's eight victories are its most in a single World Championship.