Last year, Canada opened the Worlds with a shocking shootout loss to France. On Saturday, the Canadians staved off a third-period French rally to prevail 4-3.
Jordan Eberle had two goals for Canada, including the third-period winner on the power play with 10:42 remaining. The latter was particularly gratifying for the Edmonton Oilers veteran of five Worlds since, a couple of minutes earlier, France’s 3-3 tying goal had bounced in off him.
“It seems like every year there’s a game where you’re in a real fight to get the puck in the net,” said Eberle. “You have to find a way to win, and today we did that with our power play.”
Tyler Seguin also scored twice, both similar-looking goals set up by Dallas Stars teammate Jason Spezza.
Canada, which got three power play markers and outshot France 43-21, has a perfect record atop Group A with five straight victories.
“We know how to win games,” said Canada’s Matt Duchene. “There was no panic. We didn’t believe for a second it wasn’t going to end up a Canada win.”
Julien Desrosiers, Yorick Treille and Damien Fleury replied for France.
After being outplayed through 40 minutes, Les Bleus courageously came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up with two goals 35 seconds apart. But they couldn’t pull off another upset against the motherland of hockey.
“We’re disappointed,” said Treille. “It was a good effort by everyone but we’re disappointed.”
The 2014 result marked the first time France had ever beaten an all-NHL Canadian roster. The French also defeated Canada at the 1995 Worlds (4-1), but that was after the first NHL lockout, and Canada’s team in Stockholm consisted of AHLers and other minor-leaguers.
This was a battle of the back-up goalies. France’s surprise starter in net was Ronan Quemener, and his efforts were instrumental in keeping the score close. The 27-year-old, who played for Jukurit in Mestis (the Finnish second league) this season, made his World Championship debut. He served as France’s third goalie in 2011 and 2014, but did not see any action.
Martin Jones of the Los Angeles Kings, who posted a 17-save shutout in Canada’s 10-0 win over Germany, got his second start.
Canada entered this game as the tournament’s highest-scoring team with 28 goals in four games. In this mid-day affair, the Canadians continued to fire pucks from every angle.
At 11:26, Seguin opened the scoring on the power play, accepting Spezza’s diagonal cross-ice slap-pass and lifting the puck into the open side to Quemener’s right.
Just 1:06 later, Eberle made it 2-0. Nathan MacKinnon found him cruising down the middle and sent him a great centering pass. Eberle zinged home a backhander that bounced off the net cam.
The French fought back to make it 2-1 at 16:31. A pinching Yohann Auvitu held on to the puck behind the Canadian net and got it to captain Laurent Meunier in the corner, who found Desrosiers in the right faceoff circle. He had plenty of time to get set before unleashing it under Jones’s glove.
France was fortunate to escape just one goal down after being outshot 19-6 in the first period.
Near the nine-minute mark of the second, a scrum erupted in the Canadian end after Duchene disputed the validity of a slashing minor he received on Meunier on the backcheck. However, the French couldn’t even register their first shot on goal of the period during the ensuing man advantage.
After the French power play ended, Claude Giroux had a great chance to extend Canada’s lead on a breakaway, but he put it high and wide on the backhand. Dan Hamhuis rattled a one-timer off the crossbar a couple of minutes later.
Canada’s pressure eventually caused the French to crack. With 2:58 left in the middle frame, Seguin made it 3-0 on the power play. It was almost a mirror image of his first goal, as Seguin slap-passed it to him in the left faceoff circle and he sent a low slapper through Quemener.
“Our first two periods were something to build on,” said Duchene.
Just after an early third-period French man advantage expired, Teddy Trabichet collected a rebound off Jones’s mask right in front, but put it over the crossbar.
Seemingly inspired by that close call, the French threw everything they could on net on their next power play with defenceman Dan Hamhuis off for hooking. They cut the deficit to 3-2 at 6:21 when Yorick Treille cruised through the slot and tipped Laurent Meunier’s low slap shot past Jones’s left skate.
“We kept on them in the third,” said Treille. “Maybe they thought they had the game won already, but we got a little momentum and we were in the game. ”
The building packed with 15,300 fans (mostly Czech) erupted at 6:56 when the French struck for the equalizer. Antoine Roussel came down left wing and took a shot that deflected off first Fleury and then Eberle into the net. The goal was video-reviewed and deemed good.
The Canadians exploited their opportunity to retake the lead when Trabichet was sent off for hitting Sean Couturier from behind. At 9:18, Eberle, standing in front of the net, tipped Brent Burns’s center point drive through Quemener’s pads to make it 4-3.
“Burnsie made a great shot and I was able to get my stick on it,” said Eberle.
“We’re battling to survive so we need to get points,” said Meunier. “It’s never easy against Canada, but it was 3-3 with about 13 minutes to go. I think that was a weak call by the ref there, but they have a great power play, and we couldn’t defend that today.”
Down the stretch, the Czech fans urged on the underdogs with chants of “Francie!” But the French had already shot their bolt.
Up next for Canada is Switzerland on Sunday. France’s next game is Monday against Sweden.
IHLC: With the win, Canada retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 60th title, which they won from Sweden three days ago in Group A play. This marks the first meeting since the aforementioned 3-2 French shootout win at last year’s Worlds, exactly one year to the day prior. Canada, after three days rest for this game, gets just one day before facing Switzerland next in their penultimate Group A matchup, with the IHLC up for grabs.
10:00 – PEN – Hecquefeuille, hooking
11:26 – PP GOAL – Seguin (Spezza, Barrie)
12:32 – GOAL – Eberle (MacKinnon, Duchene)
16:31 – GOAL – Desrosiers (Meunier, Auvitu)
28:53 – PEN – Duchene, slashing
28:53 – PEN – MacKinnon, roughing
28:53 – PEN – Dieudé-Fauvel, roughing
36:49 – PEN – Fleury, interference
37:02 – PP GOAL – Seguin (Spezza)
39:54 – PEN – Da Costa, hooking
41:22 – PEN – Seguin, high sticking
44:58 – PEN – Hamhuis, hooking
46:21 – PP GOAL – Treille (Meunier)
46:56 – GOAL – Fleury
48:45 – PEN – Trabichet, boarding
49:18 – PP GOAL – Eberle (Burns, Crosby)
52:53 – PEN – Da Costa, hooking
W: Jones (18-21)
L: Quemener (39-43)
SHOTS ON GOAL
19+15+9 = 43
6+1+14 = 21
Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Mike Smith. Defence: Tyson Barrie, Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Dan Hamhuis (A), Jake Muzzin, David Savard, Patrick Wiercioch. Forwards: Sean Couturier, Sidney Crosby (C), Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza (A), Tyler Toffoli.
Goaltenders: Florian Hardy, Ronan Quemener. Defence: Yohann Auvitu, Florian Chakiachvili, Benjamin Dieudé-Fauvel, Kévin Hecquefeuille (A), Jonathan Janil, Antonin Manavian, Teddy Trabichet. Forwards: Charles Bertrand, Valentin Claireaux, Teddy Da Costa, Julien Desrosiers, Damien Fleury, Anthony Guttig, Loïc Lamperier, Laurent Meunier (C), Damien Raux, Anthony Rech, Antoine Roussel, Sacha Treille, Yorick Treille (A).