Canada scored four goals in just over five minutes in the second period en route to a 7-1 thrashing of newly promoted Hungary on Sunday in St. Petersburg.
The defending champions showcased their balanced attack. Michael Matheson led the way with a goal and two assists. Mark Scheifele, Mark Stone, Derick Brassard, and Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist apiece. Captain Corey Perry and Brad Marchand added singles.
“We have to get a little bit better every period, every game,” said Perry. “I thought we did that in the second and third.”
Budding superstar Connor McDavid, a Calder Trophy finalist with the Edmonton Oilers, picked up his first two World Championship points, both assists.
István Bartalis replied for Hungary.
“I won’t focus on the result,” said Hungarian head coach Rich Chernomaz. “It is not so important for us. I was pleased with our overall play, especially in the first period, when we played aggressively.”
Goalie Calvin Pickard won his IIHF World Championship debut for Canada, which outshot Hungary 36-22. The Canadians, who defeated the U.S. 5-1 in their opener, have outscored their opposition 12-2 through two games in Group B.
It was the fourth all-time World Championship meeting between these two countries. For Hungary, it was an improvement over their only previous modern-day encounter, a 9-0 loss on April 26, 2009 in Switzerland. Hungary fell 3-1 to Canada in 1933 and earned a 1-1 tie in 1938.
The Canadians were the favourites, but the Magyars were the crowd favourites at Yubileiny, with a massive bloc of chanting, clapping, drum-beating fans behind their team’s net for two periods.
“The Hungarian fans are crazy,” said Perry. “They stayed with them the whole game.”
As in the 4-1 loss to Slovakia, the Hungarians came out with a spirited effort. But they simply made too many mistakes against the skilled NHL stars.
Despite the victory, Canada also made some defensive errors, which could have proved costly against higher-caliber opposition, and will need to be corrected.
“Our special teams keep getting better and we’re tightening up defensively,” said Hall. “It’s never going to be a perfect game, but we keep improving, and I like where our team is at.”
Hungary got the first penalty when defenceman Kevin Wehrs, a naturalized Canadian, hooked Hall as he barrelled to the net with a backhand. The Canadians capitalized with the man advantage at 5:54 on a nice passing play. McDavid fed the puck down to Stone, who centered it from behind the goal line to Scheifele, and he beat Hungarian starter Zoltán Hetényi on the glove side.
At 10:04, Perry made it 2-0. Hall swooped in from left wing and handed him a nifty backhand feed that the Canadian captain tapped in at the side of the net.
“I’m having fun with my linemates,” said Hall. “We have some good chemistry.”
The Hungarian fans erupted when István Bartalis cut the deficit to 2-1 at 18:14. István Sofron’s forechecking caused defenceman Matt Dumba to cough up the puck, and Bartalis surprised Pickard with a high blocker-side shot from the faceoff circle. It was the first World Championship goal Hungary has scored on Canada in more than 78 years.
“They played really well in the first, trapping us in the neutral zone, waiting for us to force plays into the middle,” Matheson said of the Hungarians.
Scrambly Canadian defence nearly led to the equalizer at the start of the second period. However, coach Bill Peters’ squad recovered, jumping into a 3-1 lead at 7:12. Stone jammed in the rebound from Cody Ceci’s center point drive.
Marchand notched the back-breaking 4-1 goal at 9:05 on a beautiful set-up by McDavid, who used his speed to surge past the Hungarian defenders and then backhanded the puck to his Boston Bruins linemate right in front.
At 11:36, it was 5-1 as Chris Tanev found an unguarded Brassard in front, and he whacked his second attempt past a sprawling Hetényi.
Just over a minute later, Matheson got his first of the tournament, beating Hetényi with a high shot from the faceoff dot. Matheson, a 22-year-old Florida Panthers prospect on defence, is the only Canadian player who spent most of this season in the AHL (Portland Pirates). After the goal, Chernomaz pulled Hetényi in favor of backup Ádám Vay.
“I thought we were able to adjust in the second period, and we capitalized on our opportunities,” said Matheson.
In the third period, Hall stretched Canada’s lead to 7-1 at 4:35, cutting in from the left side to slide the puck off a falling Hungarian defender and through Vay’s legs. At the final buzzer, the 24-year-old Pickard scooped the puck up as a memento of his first victory.
Canada’s next game is Monday versus Belarus. Hungary takes on France on Tuesday.
IHLC: With the victory, Canada retains their 60th International Hockey Lineal Championship, which they won at last year’s Worlds and have brought to Russia, winning their opening tilt against the U.S. This marks just the fourth IHLC meeting in history between Canada and Hungary, and the first at the Worlds since 1938, the last meeting being a 5-4 exhibition win for Canada in 2004. The game also marked the first IHLC meeting for Hungary since 2007 against Sweden. Canada will now play again in just over a day, meeting with Belarus to continue their tear through Group B with the IHLC in tow.
04:10 – PEN – Wehrs, hooking
05:54 – PP GOAL – Scheifele (Stone, McDavid)
10:04 – GOAL – Perry (Hall, Brassard)
16:11 – PEN – Erdély, hooking
18:14 – GOAL – Bartalis
27:12 – GOAL – Stone (Ceci, Reinhart)
29:05 – GOAL – Marchand (McDavid, Matheson)
31:36 – GOAL – Brassard (Tanev, Rielly)
32:45 – GOAL – Matheson (Hutton, Scheifele)
35:47 – PEN – Mestyán
38:15 – PEN – Marchand, interference
44:35 – GOAL – Hall (Matheson)
45:06 – PEN – Marchand, interference
52:18 – PEN – Magosi, holding
55:31 – PEN – Wehrs, interference
58:25 – PEN – Dudás, roughing
58:25 – PEN – Domi, roughing
W: Pickard (21-22)
L: Hetényi (18-24), Vay (11-12)
SHOTS ON GOAL
11+15+10 = 36
5+8+9 = 22
Goaltenders: Calvin Pickard, Cam Talbot. Defence: Cody Ceci, Matt Dumba, Ben Hutton, Mike Matheson, Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Chris Tanev. Forwards: Derick Brassard, Max Domi, Matt Duchene (A), Brendan Gallagher, Taylor Hall, Boone Jenner, Brad Marchand, Connor McDavid, Ryan O’Reilly (A), Corey Perry (C), Sam Reinhart, Mark Scheifele, Mark Stone.
Goaltenders: Zoltán Hetényi, Ádám Vay. Defence: Jesse Dudás, Zsombor Garát, István Mestyán, Bence Stipsicz, Bence Szirányi, Kevin Wehrs, Márton Vas (C). Forwards: Frank Banham (A), István Bartalis (A), András Benk, Csanád Erdély, Vilmos Galló, Csaba Kovács, Bálint Magosi, Gergo Nagy, Krisztián Nagy, Andrew Sarauer, Balázs Sebők, István Sofron, János Vas.