Scheifele picks up assist as Canada scores opening-day victory
Mitchell Clinton & Ryan Dittrick
The Winnipeg Jets have seven players participating in the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship, held in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. Check back throughout the tournament for daily updates, highlights and more as Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey and Eric Comrie of Canada, Nikolaj Ehlers of Denmark, and Jacob Trouba, Andrew Copp and Connor Hellebuyck of the U.S. go for gold.
CANADA 4 vs. CZECH REPUBLIC 1
Team Canada's quest for a third consecutive gold medal got off on the right foot Friday as they defeated the Czech Republic 4-1 in their opening game of the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Paris, France.
Tyson Barrie, Jeff Skinner and Claude Giroux led the way offensively with two points each, while Winnipeg native Calvin Pickard had a marvellous night in goal, stopping 28 shots to backstop his team to victory.
Jets forward Mark Scheifele picked up an assist in the win.
The red and white drew first blood at 6:09 after being thoroughly outplayed in the opening five minutes of the game.
Scheifele made a great play down low as he chased down a loose puck, feeding it out front after beating the defender, Jakub Krejcik, along the end boards. Ryan O'Reilly, who had 20 goals and 55 points for the Buffalo Sabres this year, easily put home the one-timer from the bottom of the right circle, stunning the nearly sold-out, pro-Czech crowd.
Scheifele finished the game with three shots on goal in 16:45 of ice time.
The Canadians kept pressing throughout the opening frame, but Czech goalie Petr Mrazek was up to the task. The speedy Brayden Point took off and had a partial break only minutes after the icebreaker, but the 'tender came well out of the blue paint and made a beautiful glove save to keep it a one-goal deficit. Travis Konecny then had a great chance on a 2-on-1 after fellow rookie Mitch Marner found him with a terrific no-look pass, but Mrazek came up with a sensational split save to keep his team in the game once more.
Canada opened up a two-goal lead just 55 seconds into the middle frame as Panthers defenceman Mike Matheson filtered a long shot through traffic, beating the screened goalie just under the glove.
At the other end, Jan Kovar missed a wide-open net on a give-and-go with Jake Voracek late in the period that would have cut the deficit in half. With Pickard playing as well as he was, you just knew that miss would come back to bite the Czechs.
Lukas Sadil's power-play goal marker made it a one-goal game with 6:19 to play, but the Canadians got it right back just 2:09 later. Konecny made a great play on the forecheck, winning a battle down below the goal line before finding Barrie with a ridiculous pass to the right circle. Barrie made no mistake, firing a shot high over the goalie's left shoulder.
Skinner scored into the empty net with 42 seconds left.
The Czechs outshot Canada 29-28 overall, but Pickard proved to be the difference.
The Avalanche netminder was named Canada's Player of the Game
LATE HITS: Josh Morrissey had one shot on goal and two penalty minutes in a little more than 15 minutes of ice time. ... With Flames netminder Chad Johnson handling the backup duties, Jets goaltending prospect Eric Comrie did not dress.
Canada is back in action on Sunday vs. Slovakia. You can watch the game on TSN at 5:15am CT.
USA faced the task of being hometown favourite Germany's first opponent at the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship on Friday.
The fans inside the LANXESS Arena in Cologne would go home happy, as Patrick Hager redirected a shot from Dennis Seidenberg on a German power play with six minutes left in the third period to put the tournaments hosts up 2-1, a lead they wouldn't give up.
Thomas Greiss made 42 saves in the win for Germany, while Jimmy Howard turned aside 25 of 27 shots for the USA.
The Americans tried to take the crowd out of it early. Johnny Gaudreau had a breakaway chance early on, and Nick Schmaltz hit the post less than five minutes into the opening frame.
Tobias Rieder was the one who broke the deadlock, scoring when a rebound off a shot from the corner got away from USA goaltender Jimmy Howard near the midway mark of the first.
The equalizer wouldn't come until the third period. With the USA outshooting Germany 13-2 in the period, captain Connor Murphy beat Greiss with a wrister from the top of the circle with nine minutes left in regulation.
Jacob Trouba and Andrew Copp were both held off the score sheet in the loss. Trouba had 24:05 of ice time to lead all American skaters, while Copp played 10:39 in 20 shifts.
Connor Hellebuyck did not play in the loss.
Up next for USA is a meeting with Nikolaj Ehlers and Denmark on Sunday at 9:15 am CT.