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World Juniors

United States defeats Canada outdoors at World Juniors

Wins in shootout after trailing by two in third period

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The United States completed a two-goal, third period comeback with a 4-3 shootout win against Canada in a Group A preliminary round game of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship at New Era Field in Buffalo on Friday.

A majority of the game, which set an attendance record for a WJC game with 44,592 fans, was played amid a heavy snowfall at the home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The previous attendance record of 20,380 was set during the 2009 gold medal game between Canada and Sweden on Jan. 5, 2009, in Ottawa.

Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) and Brady Tkachuk (2018 NHL Draft eligible) scored in the shootout for the United States (1-1-0-1) and goaltender Jake Oettinger (Dallas Stars) didn't allow a goal against Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks), Robert Thomas (St. Louis Blues), Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay Lightning) or Drake Batherson (Ottawa Senators) in the five-round shootout.


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Bellows, Scott Perunovich (2018 NHL Draft eligible) and Tkachuk scored in regulation and Oettinger made 19 saves. Casey Mittelstadt (Buffalo Sabres) had three assists.

"We were all telling each other to trust the game plan, and that this could be a storied event, so we stuck with it and were very happy with the outcome," Tkachuk said. "The ice was really good and it was even better with the snow coming down. You could feel the energy from the fans; it was an experience I'll never forget."

The game was similar to the gold medal game of the 2017 WJC when the U.S. trailed 2-0 and 4-2 to tie Canada before winning 5-4 in a shootout at Bell Centre in Montreal.

"We just stayed with it, stayed positive, and made sure we stuck with the game plan because we're going to find our chances and be able to bury them if we're ready," U.S. captain Joey Anderson (New Jersey Devils) said. "Tonight we were ready, and we continued to build like that and had that never-say-die attitude."

Video: Highlights from the USA vs. Canada matchup

The U.S. trailed 3-1 after the second period, but Perunovich and Tkachuk scored in a span of 34 seconds early in the third period to tie the game. Perunovich made it 3-2 on a power-play goal off a quick shot from the slot at 6:09, and Tkachuk scored after driving the front of the net at 6:43.

"Coach [Bob Motzko] said after the second period that if you're going to get one, you're going to get two, so just stick with it," center Ryan Poehling (Montreal Canadiens) said. "So that's what we ended up doing. We bought into what he said and that's why we ended up coming out on top."

Bellows scored off a slap shot from between the circles on a 5-on-3 power play 16:27 into the second to get the United States within 2-1. Katchouk gave Canada a 3-1 lead when he deflected in a shot by Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes) at 17:39.

Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche), Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames) and Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning) scored and goalie Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) made 32 saves for Canada (2-0-1-0).

Makar scored a power-play goal off a shot from the right point to give Canada a 1-0 lead in the first period at 4:13, before Dube made is 2-0 on a power-play goal off a wrist shot from the right circle at 15:17.

Video: 2018 WJC: Wrapping up from New Era Field

"In the third period it's back and forth, but last year was last year and this year it's another challenge," said Hart, who lost the shootout at the 2017 WJC. "For us, last year doesn't matter at all. Like I said, we've got the chance to finish in first place [in Group A] so that's on our minds now."

The win was the fourth straight by the United States against Canada at the WJC, although Canada leads the all-time series, 29-3-3-8 with three ties. 

"We wanted to keep it simple, keep the puck moving, get it deep, get the grind game going down low and get pucks to the net because anything can happen with bounces in this type of game," Bellows said. "It worked out and we're fortunate about that."

Canada remained in first place in the Group A preliminary round stage with seven points, and the United States in second with five points. Each team has one game remaining in the preliminary-round prior to the medal round. Canada plays Denmark on Saturday; the U.S. plays Finland on Sunday.

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