In international hockey, there are very few rivalries today as good as USA-Canada. The 2018 IIHF World Championships decided to give us a taste of that rivalry early on as the two squads met today on the opening day of the roughly two week tournament. The US defeated the Canadians 5-4 in a shootout at the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, Denmark. The teams are competing in Group B.
Team USA has four Devils on the team: Will Butcher (who was fantastic the other day in a pre-tournament exhibition game against Denmark), Blake Coleman, Brian Gibbons and goalie Keith Kinkaid. All four were in action today and played a part in the victory.
Canada got off to a quick start by jumping out to a 2-1 lead by the end of the first. Pierre-Luc Dubois beat Kinkaid just 47 seconds into the contest off an assist from Vancouver’s Bo Horvat. Ryan O’Reilly then scored at the 12:23 mark from Josh Bailey to make it 2-0 Canada.
But the US responded at the just over a minute after the O’Reilly goal at 13:59 when Anders Lee scored from Tage Thompson and Alex Debrincat. That made it 2-1 and the US comeback was on.
In what Team Canada coach Bill Peters called back-and-forth action, the US tied things up just 43 seconds into the second period when Dylan Larkin scored from Chris Kreider and Jordan Oesterle.
It would remain tied at two until the ten minute mark of the second when Salem, New Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau scored off a feed from Patrick Kane and the secondary assist going to Blake Coleman. Coleman picked up his first point of the tournament with that assist and would finish the evening with the point, a plus-1 rating, and a shot on goal in 10:07 of ice time spread out over 18 shifts.
The US now had a 3-2 lead, but Canada would tie things before the end of the frame, notching one at 17:53 when Anthony Beauvillier scored from Aaron Ekblad and Matt Barzal. Going into the third period, we were knotted at three.
And the third stanza would not help things much, as we would end up tied after that period too. Larkin scored his second of the game from Kreider and Cam Atkinson to make it 4-3 USA just 3:27 into the final period. Canada would then tie things up at four at 10:48 when Colton Parayko beat Kinkaid with an assist to Canadian captain Connor McDavid.
When overtime did not produce a winner, we went on to a shootout. This was Kinkaid’s time to shine. The shootout began with Canadian goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopping Kane. Kinkaid then stopped Brayden Schenn. Kuemper then stopped Gaudreau while Quinn Hughes shot wide. Kinkaid stopped Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kuemper stopped Larkin in the next round.
Finally, Atkinson beat Kuemper to give the US the lead and it was up to Kinkaid. He would save a shot by Jordan Eberle and the US came away with the 5-4 win over Canada.
By all accounts, Kinkaid was under siege all evening as the US was out shot by Canada 31-11. But he came up big, making 28 saves in the victory.
Butcher ended the night with a shot on goal and a minus-2 rating in 12:49 of time on ice spread out over 22 shifts. Gibbons was a minus-1 in 7:45 over 14 shifts.
Team USA currently stands in first place in Group B with two points over Canada with one point. No other team in the group has played yet.
Next up for Team USA, they take on host Denmark tomorrow. Switzerland will also be playing Austria tomorrow, which allows us to see Mirco Mueller in action. Devils goaltending prospect Gilles Senn will also be a part of the Swiss team. Nico Hischier was invited to play, as you would imagine, but he had been dealing with a nagging hand/wrist injury and opted out.
We will have ongoing coverage of the tournament right here, so stay tuned.