RIGA, Latvia – Nick Paul (Mississauga, Ont./Ottawa, NHL) scored late in the first period, but Canada’s National Men’s Team fell 3-1 to Germany on Monday at the 2021 IIHF World Championship despite their best performance of the tournament thus far.
Canada finished with a decided advantage in shots, 40-25, but could not find a way to put a second puck past Mathias Niederberger, who was sensational in the German goal.
The Canadians will rue their missed opportunities on the power play; they enjoyed eight opportunities with the man advantage, six of them in the second period, including a pair of extended five-on-threes.
But Niederberger stood his ground, making 19 saves of his 39 saves in the middle frame to send Canada to its third loss in a row to open the tournament, and its first to Germany since 1996.
“We had 40 shots and that’s three games we have outshot the other team. We have to find ways to score,” said Gabe Vilardi (Kingston, Ont./Los Angeles, NHL). “The power play, I don’t know how many we had but we have to score on at least one of them. I think we went 0-7 or 0-8 and that’s not good. There are a lot of things looking back we could have done differently, but it’s too late now, we have to move forward.”
The Canadians, as they did against Latvia and the United States, came out with jump. They peppered Niederberger with eight shots in the opening 10 minutes but couldn’t find the all-important first goal.
That went to Stefan Loibl, who took a pass in the slot after good work along the boards by Tom Kuhnhackl and snapped a quick shot over the glove of Canadian netminder Adin Hill (Calgary, Alta./Arizona, NHL) at 10:46.
Matthias Plachta added a second goal just 38 seconds later when his centring pass redirected off the skate of Owen Power (Mississauga, Ont./University of Michigan, Big Ten) and beat Hill.
The Paul goal with 1:41 left in the opening frame swung momentum back towards the Canadians, but it wouldn’t be enough to get the game even.
Canada failed to convert on a two-man advantage that lasted 1:55 early in the second period, and they couldn’t make good on another that went for the full two minutes late in the stanza.
Whatever chances they did have were either stymied by Niederberger or blocked before the puck could reach him.
Not surprisingly, it was a blocked shot that led to the insurance goal from Korbinian Holzer, who went 180 feet into an empty net with two minutes left to seal a third win in as many tries by the Germans so far.
“We have battled in all the games, we out-chanced the teams and we have to make sure we’re ready to come back,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “We have four games left, obviously we have to win out. We have to go four-and-three then we will see what happens, but it’s one game at a time. We’re capable of doing it; we’ve played good hockey so far, we just haven’t gotten the results. You can’t put your head down, you have to put your head up and be ready for the next game.”
Canada tries again for its first win Wednesday when it faces off with Norway (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).