Both Canada (3-2 over Slovakia) and the US (7-2 over France) opened the 2012 World Hockey Championship with wins 24 hours ago. And with early bragging rights on the line in one of sports’ greatest international rivalries, the two went toe-to-toe Saturday to put an early stamp on the Helsinki group’s leaderboard.
For Canada, it was a disappointing result as Jack Johnson scored 1:47 into overtime -- his second power-play marker of the night -- ending the back-and-forth match as John Tavares sat in the box, serving a delay of game minor.
Jumping out to an early lead, Team USA’s Jim Slater raced down the wing and snapped a shot through a crowd, beating Cam Ward cleanly glove side at 70 seconds in to get the ball rolling.
Ward, 28, made his second straight start as Oilers puck-stopper Devan Dubnyk sat in the backup role. He could only answer 41 of the Americans' 46 on-goal attempts.
While behind early on, Canada responded at 6:38 when Tavares crossed the crease’s lip, backhanding a shot past a diving and outstretched Jimmy Howard to make it a 1-1 game.
The teams traded goals in the second period, as Canada’s Jeff Skinner and USA’s Johnson (with his first power-play goal) put the clubs in a 2-2 draw with 20 minutes to go.
The seesaw battle continued 6:43 into the third, as an Oilers rep made an impact -- but for all the wrong reasons. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins lobbed an ill-advised pass that was picked off, leading to a shorthanded goal by Patrick Dwyer.
RNH’s linemate, Evander Kane, got the goal back 3:08 later on a laser that eluded Howard to square the score, 3-3.
With 3:41 to play, Joey Crabb helped set up Nate Thompson for a go-ahead goal that Ward would have liked to have had back. But, Canada’s never-say-die mentality helped push the game into overtime. At 18:21, Duncan Keith launched a long-range missile to tie the game once more.
The excitement was short-lived, however, as Tavares’ delay of game penalty came with a mere second on the clock, leading to Johnson’s man-advantage marker that sealed a 5-4 US win.
Nugent-Hopkins played a total of 12:54, recording two shots on goal and an even rating. His success in the dot continued to be non-existent, too, as he lost all six one-on-one battles in the circle.
Jordan Eberle also had a quiet night, but stayed out of trouble. He also collected a pair of shots in 15:17 of ice time.
On the other side, Jeff Petry was given a more premier role than he had in Friday’s game vs. France. Like his Oilers teammates, it was a largely unspectacular (but solid) night. He played 17:45, fourth-most among American rearguards, notching an even rating in the win.
Canada's next test comes on Monday vs. France, while the Americans get back in action later that day vs. Slovakia.
SWEDEN 4 vs. CZECH REPUBLIC 1
Ales Hemsky netted the game-winning goal as the Czech Republic upended Denmark by a 2-0 score on Day 1, but a pointless effort vs. Sweden proved costly, as Tre Kronor solved Czech goalie Jakub Stepanek with three goals on 20 shots, while his club could only respond with one.
Swedish blueliner Niklas Persson added an empty-netter, stamping a 4-1 victory at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm.
The Mule, Johan Franzen, opened the scoring at 2:42 with questionable play that could have had the goal called off. The 32-year-old collected Henrik Zetterberg and Loui Eriksson’s rebound, pushing the Czech D into the helpless keeper and having the puck cross the goal line to make it 1-0.
50 seconds into the middle period and with the shot count low, the Red Wings connected once more. Following some great work by Zetterberg to set up the play, Niklas Kronwall pounded home the garbage to extend his club’s lead.
A myriad of minor penalties to both sides kept the penalty box doors swinging -- a sign of things to come. Tampa Bay Lightning rearguard Victor Hedman leveled Hemsky with a vicious (but clean) board-side check near the benches; but the door was propped open, causing the Oilers winger to slam harder than expected.
Hemsky, who’s taken his share of punishment over the years, didn’t miss a beat.
Still leading 2-0 early in the third period, the Czechs ruined Swedish netminder Viktor Fasth’s shutout bid. The 29-year-old, who’s yet to play an NHL game (and may never), dished a pass directly to Jakub Petruzalek up the middle. Wasting little time in allowing Fasth to get back into position, No. 88 wired a snapshot past the goalie to bring the Czechs back in it, 2-1.
Hemsky had initially earned an assist, as it was his dump-in that sparked the goal-scoring sequence, but it was later discredited.
At 10:24, Sweden got it right back as Joel Lundqvist, who was perched in the deep slot, redirected Persson's point blast past Stepanek to restore his squad's two-goal advantage.
That Czechs didn’t get any closer, as a 17-shot outing wasn’t nearly enough to generate an attack capable of sinking the high-powered Swedish arsenal.
Hemsky skated on a line with Michal Vondrka and ex-Oiler Petr Nedved. In total, he amassed 13:27 in ice time, but was unable to record a point or shot on goal; he was one of 11 Czech players to end the game with a -1 rating.
Hemsky and the Czechs get Sunday off and will return to action on Monday to challenge Norway.
ROUND ROBIN SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times mountain) Friday, May 4: