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.
Switzerland 5, Kazakhstan 1
Defenseman Mark Streit scored twice and added an assist as Switzerland routed Kazakhstan in its opening game. Reto Berra made 19 saves as the Swiss won their Group A match in Helsinki by beating newly promoted Kazakhstan in just the second meeting between the teams in tournament history.
"There are no easy games in this tournament, all teams can play. Fortunately, we got an early lead," said Streit, whose power-play goal at 11:04 of the opening period made it 2-0.
"We knew we couldn't have any turnovers in the neutral zone. We wanted to get the puck deep into their zone, cycle it there, and get them tired. That's what we did, they took a couple of penalties, and we took advantage of that," he told the IIHF's website.
Streit, the Swiss team captain, followed Ivo Ruthemann's goal at 9:48 by one-timing Roman Wick's pass into the net for the first of his team's three power-play goals.
Roman Savchenko's one-timer past Berra early in the second period made it 2-1, but Streit's blast during a 5-on-3 power play restored the Swiss team's two-goal lead. Streit then sprung teammates Dennis Hollenstein and Ruthemann on a 2-on-1 break, and Ruthemann scored his second of the game for a 4-1 lead.
"It was nice to score two goals, but we have a very big game tomorrow, and we can't feel too comfortable about ourselves. This is in the past, and we look forward to the game against Belarus," said Streit, a defenseman with the New York Islanders.
Felicien Du Bois scored at 16:53 of the middle period for a 5-1 lead. Berra faced only six shots in the final period.
Both teams play again Sunday -- Switzerland faces Belarus and Kazakhstan meets France.
Russia 5, Latvia 2
Despite the drum-pounding enthusiasm of Latvian fans at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, Russia rallied to win in Zinetula Bilyaletdinov's debut as coach as Evgeni Malkin scored twice and added an assist.
Russian captain Ilya Nikulin and Alexander Popov added a goal and an assist apiece, and Alexander Perezhogin had a pair of assists. Miks Indrasis and Kaspars Daugavins scored for Latvia, which held a 1-0 lead for more than 22 minutes but couldn't make it stand up as Russia outshot the Latvians 40-26.
Latvia started the scoring at 11:32 of the first period when Miks Indrasis wobbled a slap shot past Semyon Varlamov from the top of the left circle.
The Russians dominated play after that but didn't get even until Nikulin's power-play goal at 13:45 of the second period, a shot that deflected off a Latvian defender and into the net.
Malkin put Russia ahead to stay at 16:29, working a give-and-go with Nikulin for another power-play goal. He made it 3-1 at 5:03 of the third, converting a rebound after Popov's shot was stopped by Edgars Masalskis. Popov's goal at 10:53 expanded the lead to 4-1.
The Latvians got some life with 4:39 left when Daugavins beat Varlamov during a power play. But Evgeni Kuznetsov beat Masalskis with a high wrist shot just 92 seconds later to seal the win.
Both teams play their second game on Sunday -- Russia faces Norway, while Latvia plays Belarus.