RIGA, Latvia – Kevin Poulin (Montreal, Que./EHC Kloten, NLA) turned away all 29 shots he faced, leading Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team to a 2-0 pre-Olympic win over Belarus on Tuesday.
Poulin posted his second-straight international shutout after blanking Switzerland 2-0 in the Spengler Cup final on New Year’s Eve, and the Canadians made it back-to-back clean sheets in Riga following a 2-0 win over Latvia on Sunday.
After the teams traded early power plays, Canada opened the scoring just shy of the 12-minute mark; Eric O’Dell (Ottawa, Ont./HC Sochi, KHL) drove wide in the Belarus zone and centered for Maxim Lapierre (Brossard, Que./HC Lugano, NLA), who jammed the 1-0 goal past goaltender Igor Brikun from in tight.
The Canadians had a 13-5 edge in shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes, but Belarus would have the advantage the rest of the way, testing Poulin with 24 shots over the final two periods.
Andrew Ebbett (Vernon, B.C./SC Bern, NLA) added a second Canadian goal seven minutes into the third, but it was far from over; Canada paraded to the penalty box immediately following the insurance marker, taking four minors in just over five minutes and giving Belarus a 5-on-3 advantage for 47 seconds.
But Poulin barred the door, making 13 saves in the final frame to preserve the shutout and send Canada to South Korea with a scoreless streak of more than 205 minutes, dating back to the semifinals at the Spengler Cup.
Canada departs for PyeongChang on Wednesday; it will take on Sweden in its final pre-tournament game on Sunday (11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT) in Incheon, a rematch of the 2014 Olympic gold medal game.
The Canadians will play Sweden on Sunday, February 11, at 11 p.m. ET in Incheon, South Korea, in their final pre-tournament game before opening Olympic action against Switzerland on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 a.m. ET.
“It’s good for our team; a lot of guys don’t know each other, so it’s good to play a few games together, improve our systems and get our game on the same page. The goal is to improve with every period and every game.”
Maxim Lapierre on the importance of playing the pre-tournament games ahead of the Olympic opener next week
“Our special teams were good and we killed the penalties really well. Kevin Poulin played an extremely solid game – made some big saves at the right time. We’re looking to improve every game – we’re a little bit better than last game, but we need to be a little bit better [for next game]. But that’s part of the process and it’s why we’re here to play those games before it really counts.”
Martin Brodeur of the management group on the role of pre-tournament games in the team’s preparation