PARIS, France – Marc-Édouard Vlasic (Montreal, Que./San Jose, NHL) scored the winner on a friendly bounce early in the third period, and Canada’s National Men’s Team came from behind to beat France 3-2 in front of more than 14,000 fans on Thursday, remaining unbeaten at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
With the Canadians controlling the puck in the French zone, Vlasic threw a shot towards the net that bounced off the end boards and off goaltender Florian Hardy before it was helped across the line by a French defender, giving Canada the decisive goal.
For Vlasic, it was his first international goal in his 23rd international game, spanning three worlds, an Olympic Winter Games and a World Cup of Hockey.
Ryan O’Reilly (Varna, Ont./Buffalo, NHL) scored early in the first period and Claude Giroux (Hearst, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL) tied the game late in the second for Canada, which is the only team with a full 12 points from its first four games.
O’Reilly opened the scoring on the power play at 5:19, taking a pass down low from Nathan MacKinnon (Cole Harbour, N.S./Colorado, NHL) and beating Hardy with a backhand, but Olivier Dame-Malka brought the hosts even less than four minutes later, hammering a one-timer past Canadian goaltender Chad Johnson (Calgary, Alta./Calgary, NHL).
An early man advantage produced the go-ahead goal for the French in the second period; they stretched out the Canadian penalty kill before Stéphane da Costa went cross-ice to Damien Fleury for the 2-1 marker.
France looked like it was going to take that lead to the second intermission, but Canada capitalized on a power play in the final minute of the middle frame, with Giroux wiring a perfect shot over the glove of Hardy to make it 2-2 after 40 minutes.
Buoyed by the home-country crowd at AccorHotels Arena the French applied the pressure after the Vlasic goal, outshooting Canada 12-10 in the third period on the strength of five minutes of power-play time, but couldn’t find a way past Johnson, who made 22 saves.
Canada finished with a 35-24 advantage in shots on goal.
The Canadians return to the ice Saturday to take on Switzerland (2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT). Canada is 25-2-2 all-time against the Swiss at worlds, dating back to their first meeting in 1934.
“We’ve really enjoyed [having] him on our team. He’s savvy with the puck, he can calm things down, he’s been really good for our powerplay, and he’s just a consummate pro. He can calm our guys down on the bench, he knows the subtle plays to make that are safe to help you contain a 3-2 lead, and he’s been a great addition for us.”
– Jon Cooper, Team Canada head coach on Chris Lee
Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 20 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games champions were also considered world champion. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.