Canada will play for gold on Sunday at the 2016 IIHF World Championship after defeating the United States 4-3 in Saturday’s semifinal
MOSCOW, Russia – Ryan Ellis (Freelton, Ont./Nashville, NHL) broke open a tie game early in the third period, and Canada’s National Men’s Team held on to beat the United States 4-3 in a Saturday semifinal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.
Canada will face unbeaten Finland in Sunday’s gold medal game (1:45 p.m. ET/10:45 a.m. PT, live on TSN), one victory away from winning back-to-back world titles for the first time since 2003 and 2004.
Ellis stepped over the blue-line before blowing a slap shot past U.S. goaltender Keith Kinkaid just 94 seconds into the third period, giving the Canadians the lead for good in a back-and-forth game.
Canada led 2-0 after one period before the Americans scored three times in 7:11 early in the second to grab the advantage, only to see Derick Brassard (Hull, Que./New York Rangers, NHL) tie it on a power play late in the middle frame.
Brendan Gallagher (Tsawwassen, B.C./Montreal, NHL) and Brad Marchand (Hammonds Plains, N.S./Boston, NHL) had the other goals for the Canadians, while Cam Talbot (Caledonia, Ont./Edmonton, NHL) made 30 saves.
Meeting in the medal round for the first time since 1991, and in a one-game playoff for the first time since the 1934 gold medal game, Saturday’s game was much tighter than the 5-1 Canadian win in the preliminary round.
Canada struck first 8:59 into the opening period when Gallagher dove at the rebound of a Booner Jenner (Dorchester, Ont./Columbus, NHL) shot and knocked it past Kinkaid, and Marchand finished a perfect give-and-go with Cody Ceci (Orléans, Ont./Ottawa, NHL) to make it 2-0 late in the first.
But the U.S. came out with a bang in the second period, scoring three goals to take the lead.
Auston Matthews netted the first U.S. goal at 1:14, blasting a slap shot past Talbot on the power play, David Warsofsky kept on a two-on-one and snapped a shot under the cross-bar at 3:57, and a pretty pass from Dylan Larkin to Tyler Motte put the Americans ahead at 8:25.
Canada responded, though; Ryan O’Reilly (Varna, Ont./Buffalo, NHL) got first crack at a rebound in the slot before the puck bounced out to Brassard, who had an empty net to tie the game.
Talbot took over after the Ellis goal early in the third period, making 11 of his 30 stops in the final 20 minutes to clinch a return trip to the gold medal game for the Canadians.
The U.S. finished with a 33-27 advantage in shots on goal.
Matt Duchene, comparing last year’s team to this year’s:
“We’re a bit younger, and we show it at times, but our discipline and our teamwork together and our talent takes over a lot of the time and I think it did tonight. That’s why we got the win.”
“The guys played really well tonight. Going forward, we’re going to have to be at our best tomorrow [to beat Finland].”
Connor McDavid (Newmarket, Ont./Edmonton, NHL), who tallied his eight assist of the tournament on Ellis’ goal, on the previous match-up with Finland and how to prepare for Sunday:
“[In the preliminary round] they capitalized on our mistakes. We had a couple turnovers that just can’t happen, and the puck ended up at the back of our net, and that’s the game. We’ll limit those and other than that, I think we played a really good game against them. Obviously it wasn’t the outcome we wanted but we learned a lot.”
Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 19 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games gold-medallists were also considered world champions. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.