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Canada defeats Americans in Group B showdown

by Mike G. Morreale

The Canadian National Junior Team received stellar play from goalie Malcolm Subban in surviving a late scare and earn a 2-1 victory against the United States on Sunday in a Group B showdown at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

The United States pulled to within 2-1 in the third period when Jacob Trouba scored his team-leading third goal of the tournament. Trouba collected a cross-ice feed from Alex Galchenyuk and ultimately batted at a loose puck that found the back of the net behind Subban at the 11:02 mark. It would be Subban's only blemish in an otherwise fantastic performance.

Subban made a huge save off Ryan Hartman less than 30 seconds later to keep Canada ahead. It was at that point that any momentum the United States had gained was suddenly lost after a series of penalties, which included hit-to-the-head penalties to captain Jake McCabe and Ryan Hartman. The U.S. killed off two sequences in which Canada had a 5-on-3 advantage, including one for a full two minutes.

Subban played his best game of the tournament, making a few big stops late in the game when the U.S. had a power play and eventual two-man advantage after pulling goalie John Gibson with 1:07 remaining. Subban finished the game with 36 saves, including 11 in the third. Gibson was also solid in defeat with 30 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome connected for first-period goals to provide all the scoring Canada would need in support of Subban, Canada's player of the game.

Canada was forced to kill a double-minor penalty to defenseman Griffin Reinhart for high sticking at 6:52 of the second. Hartman was fouled by Reinhart after the American forward established position down low in the Canadian end.

Canada's penalty killers did a fantastic job of keeping the U.S. players to the perimeter for much of four-minute advantage. When the puck did find a seam, Subban, who was credited with eight saves during the power-play, was there to shut the door.

Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring for Canada with his third goal of the tournament off a quick release from the inner right circle 7:13 into the period. Following an offensive-zone draw, Jonathan Huberdeau controlled the puck along the half-boards before feeding an uncovered Nugent-Hopkins, who ripped a shot that beat Gibson low to the blocker side.

Canada extended the lead to 2-0 when Strome followed up a rebound of a Brett Ritchie wrap-around attempt at 18:19. Strome beat U.S. defenseman Seth Jones to the puck in front of Gibson following Ritchie's big surge behind the American net.

Despite allowing two goals in the opening period, Gibson did make three huge stops to keep the game within reach for the United States. He stopped Kitchener Rangers teammate Ryan Murphy off a semi-breakaway attempt, denied 2013 draft-eligible prospect Jonathan Drouin on a breakaway, and turned away Mark Scheifele with a sensational left-glove snare in front.

Subban also make a few scintillating stops, including one off a breakaway attempt by U.S. forward John Gaudreau with 9:15 remaining.

In the absence of forward J.C. Lipon, who was suspended for the game, Canada coach Steve Spott opted to have Nathan MacKinnon on right wing with Strome and Jonathan Drouin on the second line. Brett Ritchie was inserted on the fourth line with Anthony Camara and a rotating center. Ty Rattie was placed on right wing with Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault.

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