Rangers prospects Marc Staal, Tom Pyatt and Marc-Andre Cliche got off to a great start at the World Junior Championships on Tuesday, as their Canadian team shut out host Sweden 2-0 in Leksand, Sweden.
It was a big win for Canada, which is looking to defend the gold medal for a second straight year. Staal and Pyatt were both on the Canadian team that won it all last January, while Clich made his first World Junior appearance in Tuesday's win..
Staal, the Rangers' 2005 first-round draft pick, played a tremendous game alongside Ryan Parent on Team Canada's No. 1 defense pairing, and he was on the ice for much of the third period as the Canadians protected their lead. One year ago, Staal won the Directorate Award as the tournament's top defenseman
Canada will face Team USA in its second game on Wednesday evening. The Rangers have more prospects on the Canadian roster than any other NHL team.
The Canadians were outshot 31-18, but Sweden had no answer for Canadian goaltender Carey Price, the fifth overall pick by Montreal in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Luc Bourdon, a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2005, scored the eventual game-winner for the Canadians at 14:22 of the opening period. Canada's other goal was scored by Boston Bruins prospect Brad Marchand at 19:12 of the second period.
Pyatt, Canada's fourth-line center, managed one shot on goal in the third period. Cliche, on the third line, registered two shots on goal in the third.
Two other Rangers prospects competed in the World Junior tournament on Tuesday, as Artem Anisimov's Russian team downed the Czech Republic squad that includes fellow Rangers draftee David Kveton. Both Rangers prospects were held off the scoresheet in the Group B game. Kveton played on the Czechs' fourth line, while Anisimov managed four shots on goal while playing on Russia's third line.
In another game on Tuesday, Germany beat Team USA 2-1 in overtime. Marcel Muller got the winner at 1:51 of overtime in the Germans' upset win at Leksand - the first time Germany has ever beaten the U.S. in the World Junior Championships. Germany had led 1-0 until Peter Mueller scored for the Americans at 8:56 of the third period, forcing the overtime.
Team USA outshot Germany by a wide 39-16 margin, but struggled to score on 19-year-old German goaltender Sebastian Stefaniszin, who plays for the German Elite League's Berlin Polar Bears. Jeff Zatkoff the Los Angeles Kings' third-round pick last June, was in net for the Americans. Despite the loss, the U.S. did earn one point in the Group A standings by taking the game into overtime.
Belarus also scored an upset on Tuesday, beating Finland 4-3. The Finns had led 2-1 after two periods, but Belarus scored three straight in the third to put the game away.