TORONTO, Ont. – If that’s what Canada could do for an opening act, hockey fans across the country can’t wait to see what comes next.
Behind three-point nights from Sidney Crosby (Cole Harbour, N.S./Pittsburgh, NHL) and Brad Marchand (Hammonds Plains, N.S./Boston, NHL) – and points from 12 players in all – as well as a 27-save performance from Carey Price (Anahim, Lake, B.C./Montreal, NHL), Canada shut out the Czech Republic 6-0 on Saturday night in its opening game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Canada fired 50 shots on net, with Crosby, Marchand, Patrice Bergeron (Ancienne-Lorette, Que./Boston, NHL), Joe Thornton (St. Thomas, Ont./San Jose, NHL), Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg, Man./Chicago, NHL) and Alex Pietrangelo (King City, Ont./St. Louis, NHL) all beating Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Crosby opened the scoring 8:26 into the first period, picking the puck up below the goal line, bringing it out front and banking it off Neuwirth and in.
With less than three minutes to play in the first, Bergeron cleanly won an offensive zone face-off to Crosby, who fed Brent Burns (Barrie, Ont./San Jose, NHL) at the point. Burns’ blast from the blue line was tipped by Marchand to make it 2-0.
Already riding the momentum from that late goal, Canada continued to press. Crosby created a turnover in the offensive zone, and Marchand sent the loose puck cross ice to Bergeron. The puck found the back of the net less than a second before the horn ended the period.
Canada scored twice more in the second. Crosby backhanded the puck to Thornton for an easy tap in at the doorstep.
Seven minutes later, Toews sent a spinning cross-crease pass to Ryan Getlzaf (Regina, Sask./Anaheim, NHL), who returned the puck to Toews for an easy tap in on the power play.
Twelve minutes into the third, Pietrangelo’s wrist shot from just inside the face-off circle gave Canada its second power play goal in three opportunities.
As much offence as the team displayed in the win, it was equally impressive on the defensive side, especially on the penalty kill. Ryan O’Reilly (Clinton, Ont./Buffalo, NHL) battled three Czechs behind their own net to knock several seconds off an early second period power play, drawing cheers from the near-capacity crowd.
Head coach Mike Babcock (Saskatoon, Sask./Toronto, NHL), on what worked for Canada:
“I thought we had rolled out the door as much as I could. Tried to get everyone on the ice and be important. Our penalty killers were real good. … The other thing I liked about our team is our discipline, and our sticking to the plan. Even in the third period, we stayed with it, we didn’t get careless, which is positive. I’ve been to a number of these events, and the team that loses today usually gets better tomorrow, and the team that wins today usually gets a little fatter tomorrow. The important thing to do is just live scared and get better tomorrow.”
Carey Price on the pride in his win-streak for Team Canada in international competition:
“Yeah, not just me, though. Hockey Canada is really – we play very good defensive hockey. We make it really difficult to score goals. Look at the roster and how many championship players there are on this team, and there’s a reason why they’re champions. They play the game the right way. They’re on the right side of the puck at the right time. It’s just a Hockey Canada staple to make it difficult to score. It’s a real pleasure to play behind.”
World Cup of Hockey 2016 is a joint effort of the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association, in cooperation with the International Ice Hockey Federation. Eight teams — Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Europe, Team Finland, Team North America, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team USA — are competing in the two-week tournament, featuring more than 170 of the best players in the NHL. All tournament games are played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Czechs finished o/6 on the power play.