(CP) - A tie would have been enough, but a physical Canadian team got the win against the United States at the world junior hockey championship Saturday to earn a bye to the semifinal.
Canadian captain Kyle Chipchura scored an empty-net winner with 33 seconds remaining in the entertaining game for the 3-2 victory. A tie wasn't enough for the U.S. to finish first in Group A so the Americans pulled goaltender Cory Schneider for an extra attacker in an attempt to get the win.
Canada (4-0-0) will play in a semifinal Tuesday (TV, 7 p.m. ET) and Monday's quarter-final will determine its opponent.
Securing the bye to the semifinal is an major advantage. In addition to a day of rest and facing a semifinal opponent tired from the previous round, Canada avoids the danger of losing a player to injury in a sudden-death quarter-final.
American defenceman Jack Johnson elbowed Canadian forward Steve Downie in the head after Chipchura's goal. Downie went down and Johnson, the third overall pick in this year's NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, was given a major and a game misconduct.
The International Ice Hockey Federation said after the game that it will not review the incident further and Johnson will receive no additional punishment.
Cam Barker of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Dustin Boyd of the Moose Jaw Warriors also scored for Canada in front of 16,083 at Pacific Coliseum.
Both Schneider and Canadian goaltender Justin Pogge faced 25 shots and made 23 saves.
The building was not quite full for the highly-anticipated match and there were some empty seats in the lower bowl, but nearly full house was roaring early when Barker scored a power-play goal at 2:35 of the first period.
Chris Bourque, son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, and Peter Mueller of the Everett Silvertips scored power-play goals for the Americans.
The top three teams in Group A and Group B advance to the playoff round starting Monday. The first-place team in each group gets a bye while the second-place team in each crosses over to play the third seeds in the other group in Monday's quarter-finals.
Canada scored once on six power-play opportunities.
The Americans evened up in the second period at 8:10 of the second period with a power-play goal. On a heads-up play, Erik Johnson sent a long pass up to Canada's blue-line to Tom Fritsche, who deflected the puck behind him to a streaking Mueller. The Everett Silvertips forward was all alone in front of Pogge and beat him.
The U.S. opened the second period with a two-man advantage as both David Bolland and Blake Comeau were in the box for stick infractions in the last minute of the of the first. Canada killed it off, thanks to a smart save by Pogge on Johnson 36 seconds into the period. Johnson hit the post twice in the second period.
Andrew Cogliano was all-alone in front of Schneider with just over a minute to go in the first period, but rang his shot off the crossbar.
Bourque's wobbling shot through traffic beat Pogge at 10:27 for a power-play goal that cut Canada's lead in half. Comeau was serving a double minor for high-sticking.
Bourque tripped in the neutral zone and Downie and Bolland went in on an odd-man rush, executing a tic-tac-toe passing sequence to make it 2-0 at 6:43.
Boyd worked hard digging the puck in the corners in the offensive zone and U.S. defenceman Taylor Chorney hauled him down to give Canada a power play at 2:09. Canada got traffic in front of Schneider and Barker scored with a high-shot from the blue-line.
In other action from the WJC, Finland defeated Switzerland, 4-1; Russia skated past the Czech Republic, 7-2 and Sweden prevailed over Slovakia, 6-0.