TORONTO - Entering the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the mantra of the United States was that "it's time."
On Tuesday night, time ran out.
Needing a victory to keep its hopes of the advancing past the round robin stage alive, the United States was defeated by rival Canada, 4-2, officially eliminating the U.S. from semifinal contention.
It was a game the United States led in, scoring first, 4:22 after the puck was dropped, when defenseman Ryan McDonagh found a loose puck at the top of the crease and swatted it past Carey Price.
But Canada would waste little time not only tying the game, but also taking the lead. Matt Duchene scored 89 seconds after McDonagh. Fourteen seconds later, Corey Perry gave Canada the lead.
And suddenly, time was running out on the United States, and its hopes recapturing the hockey glory it created at the World Cup in 1996, its most recent best-on-best championship.
"Extremely disappointing," Ryan Suter said. "As you get older in your career you don't how many chances you're going to get at something like this, so it's extremely disappointing."
Everyone had a little extra giddy-up, a rivalry the catalyst, but Zach Parise looked very good from a physical standpoint. He was winning footraces on the forecheck, bouncing off Canadian players, and going right to the front of the net despite the constant whacking and abuse he was taking.
Parise played 14:45. He and Patrick Kane had a great chance to cut a 3-1 deficit down to a goal in the second period, but a 2-on-1 on the power play failed when Kane's pass to Parise deflected off the glove of Shea Weber, and never settled back down before getting to Parise.
For parts of the game, Parise skated on a line with Kane and Derek Stepan. At other times, he was with Ryan Kesler fellow Minnesotan Blake Wheeler, the line he practiced on the past two days.
Suter was one of the United States' better players. Playing the type of game he does when he most excels, Suter was hardly noticeable, playing sound defensively, while putting up the best possession numbers of any American skater. And of course he led all players in ice time, skating 25 minutes even.
The United States treated time as a fragile concept throughout the tournament. It came within an overtime goal of a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Its current collection of players, whom Kane said before the tournament is " … probably at its peak right now," could now be facing a valley.
"Every time you get a chance to play in a tournament like this it's special," Joe Pavelski said. "It doesn't matter if you think it might be your last or not; that's kind of out of our control right now.
"The next chance, whenever that happens, you can see how guys are playing. It was about playing right now in the games, and we never got it going the way we needed to."
Because whether or not that opportunity comes again for this group, an early 2016 World Cup exit stings.
"I feel like we let our country down, we let ourselves down," Suter said.
Key Moment: It took 14 seconds for the best possible United States start to get completely flipped on its head.
After the best start the Americans could have asked for, scoring less than five minutes into the first period, Canada quickly took control with two goals over a span of 14 seconds less than two minutes later.
"We started out well," Suter said. "We had good momentum, good shifts. We had the goal. And then they came back, and took the game over."
Pegged as such an underdog entering Tuesday, the momentum the United States gained was pumped into the quieted Air Canada Centre crowd, which quickly got behind its team. Before the PA announcer could read the first goal, the puck was in the back of the net for the second. The crowd was sent into a tizzy, and the entire complexion of the game had been changed.
The Skinny: The United States becomes the first team eliminated at the 2016 World Cup, with one game remaining against the Czech Republic.
Overmatched by the Canadians, the United States backed itself into the most difficult of corners with the opening game loss to Team Europe.
A do-or-die, must-win game against the cream of hockey's international crop on its home soil is not a recipe for success.
"We were prepared for this game," Suter said. "We came out with the right mindset. We had some good plays early.
"But obviously that first game really puts you behind the eight-ball. We started well, we just weren't able to get the momentum back after they got a couple of goals."