VANCOUVER (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 (TSN, 7 p.m. ET) against the winner of Mondays quarter-final between Sweden, second in Group B and Finland, third in Group A (TSN, 11 p.m. ET).
The U.S. plays the Czech Republic, which finished third in Group B, in Monday's other quarter-final (TSN, 7 p.m. ET). The winner of that game faces Group B winner Russia on Tuesday (TSN, 11 p.m. ET).
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.
"You get an extra day of rest, more time to prepare against your opponent and obviously your opponent is going to be a lot more tired than you so it's a pretty big deal,'' Canadian forward Ryan O'Marra said.
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.
Canadian head coach Brent Sutter said at the post-game news conference he did not yet know Downie's status.
"It was kind of a dirty play, I suppose,'' Chipchura said. "Downie is a big part of our team. He plays on the edge and I know Jack and I know he's a competitive guy. He's a nice guy and maybe it wasn't the best move.''
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.
"That's probably the best team in the tournament we'll play,'' Schneider said. "Especially in an environment like that. It's kind of like the ultimate road game.''
Chris Bourque, son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, and Peter Mueller of the Everett Silvertips scored power-play goals for the Americans.
Even though the Canadians beat Norway 4-0 on Thursday, they were hamstrung in executing their style of game because of the number of minor penalties called.
Swedish referee Marcus Vinnerborg let both teams play for the most part Saturday and Canada was able to play a physical game, which was key to its strategy.
"It was a lot better,'' Canadian forward Tom Pyatt said. "`It was good game of hockey tonight with a lot of checks. Everyone was finishing their hits and they kind of laid back on the penalties.
While the U.S. has an abundance of speed and skill, Canada was better in the trenches. The Canadians hit and forechecked the Americans hard in their own zone to keep the puck there and contain the U.S.
"Their D were blowing snow when they were going into the corner and that helped us on our attack,'' O'Marra said. "That helped us on our attack. We kept forechecking, kept it down low five-on-five and they couldn't handle us.''
In the defensive zone, Canada was able to keep shots to the outside on Pogge even-strength, but Pogge was challenged during eight U.S. power plays, including a two-man advantage to start the second period, and made some major-league stops, which had Pacific Coliseum chanting his name.
"Having just played in it, it was probably the biggest game of my life and it's going to take some time to sink in,'' Pogge said.
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.
CP Player of the Game -- Justin Pogge. The Calgary Hitmen goaltender was cool and calm in a high-pressure game, came up big on U.S. power plays and gave Canada a chance to win after the U.S. fought back from a 2-0 deficit.
Notes -- Saturday's game was the first meeting between the two countries at this tournament since the U.S. beat Canada 4-3 in the final of the 2004 world junior championship in Helsinki. The two sides missed each other in 2005, when Canada won the gold in Grand Forks, N.D. . . Canada is 25-5-3 all-time against the U.S. in this tournament.