The 2008 World Championships saw a classic contest unfold Tuesday when arguably the two best teams in the tournament -- Canada and the United States -- faced each other at the Halifax Metro Centre.
Canada prevailed, 5-4, when Dany Heatley
, who leads the tournament with six goals and four assists in three games, scored the game-winning goal and his second of the game with just 46.8 seconds remaining in the game. Ottawa’s Heatley, one of just eight players in the NHL to total at least 40 goals and 40 assists this season, has the most career points for Canada in World Championships history with 42 points, surpassing Steve Yzerman’s record of 39.
“We played really hard right to the end,” said Canadian center Ryan Getzlaf
, who is playing on the same line with Heatley and Rick Nash
. “We take pride in those kinds of wins. We were raised that way.”
The Canadians jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first by with goals by Heatley, Brent Burns
and Jonathan Toews
and the game seemed to be well in hand for coach Ken Hitchcock’s club.
Just 34 seconds after Toews’ goal, the Americans struck with a Zach Parise
goal and the Canadian lead was cut to one when Patrick O’Sullivan broke in alone on a breakaway and was able to beat Canadian goalie Cam Ward
Canadian captain Shane Doan
, who is also the captain for the Phoenix Coyotes
, believes his team is still coming together and the tournament will be a challenge for his club.
“We're a work in progress, I guess,” Doan said. “We're going to keep working no matter what in every game. Nothing's going to come easy.”
The Canadians regained their two-goal lead in the third period with a Derek Roy
goal, but the Americans rallied back to tie it with goals from Dustin Brown
and Jason Pominville
later in the third period.
Despite the loss, American coach John Tortorella thought his club played well. “I thought they played their (butts) off.” Tortorella said.
O’Sullivan agrees with Tortorella and thinks, perhaps, if these two teams meet again in the tournament there might be a different result.
“I think we showed a lot of people that we're capable of playing at the same level as these guys,” O'Sullivan said.
Canada and the United States are the only two teams in the tournament that have dressed a roster full of current NHL players.
With this win, Canada gained the top spot in Group B ahead of the second-place Americans, which means that the Canadians will open the qualification round against the second-placed team in Group C -- Finland, Slovakia or Germany. The Americans will play the first-place team from Group C -- one of those same three teams -- in their first game of the qualification round.
Around the World Championships --
The Latvians got two goals from Aleksejs Sirokovs
, who plays for Metalurg Zhlobin of the Belarusian league and added a penalty-shot goal from Aleksandrs Nizivijs
on Tuesday to defeat the Slovenians, 3-0. Latvian goalie Edgar Masalaskis
stopped all 17 Slovenian shots he faced and helped Latvia surge to third place in Group B, which means that Slovenia will face the relegation round and the Latvians will have the opportunity to advance in the tournament. … The Czech Republic predictably took care of the Italians by cruising to a 7-2 victory Tuesday in Quebec City after a shaky first period, which ended 2-2. The Czechs, who allowed just 14 shots on goal, had six different goal scorers, including Phoenix right wing Radim Vrbata
, who scored twice. With Italy’s winless record in the preliminary round, they will face the possibility of relegation. … Sweden will get a major injection Wednesday, when goalie Henrik Lundqvist
, whose New York Rangers
were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins
in five games in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will join the club. Even though Lundqvist is expected to arrive in time for Wednesday’s game against Switzerland, he is not expected to play until the qualification round. … Russia completed the preliminary round without a loss and captured the top spot in Group D on Tuesday afternoon with a 4-1 victory against Denmark. Russia got goals from Maxim Afinogenov
, Alexander Ovechkin
, Sergei Fedorov
and Konstantin Gorovikov
before Denmark’s Kim Staal
closed the scoring. Denmark was in awe of their clearly superior opponent. “It was almost like a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play against these Russians,” said Danish goalie Patrick Galbraith
. “I almost wanted to keep the puck as a souvenir after making a save.”