Captain Corey Perry had a goal and an assist to help Canada blank France 4-0 on Monday. Next, the defending champs will battle Finland for top spot in Group B.
Perry celebrated his 31st birthday with Canada’s sixth straight three-point win. The Anaheim Ducks winger, a 2007 Stanley Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist (2010, 2014), is the lone player at this tournament who could join the Triple Gold Club this year with a world title.
“Corey scored a nice goal on his birthday and that’s probably the best gift he could get,” said Canadian coach Bill Peters. “We celebrated earlier and took a nice team photo.”
Mark Stone also had a goal and an assist, and Matt Duchene and Mark Scheifele added singles for Canada, which has done just about everything right so far.
At the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus, France stunned everyone with its 5-4 upset over Canada, with Pierre-Édouard Bellemare notching the shootout winner. Unlike 2014, however, no quarter-final berth awaits Les Bleus this year. With their third straight loss, they are mathematically eliminated from the final eight.
To date, the Canadians have scored 34 goals and allowed just four. Against Finland on Tuesday, they’ll battle an opponent that has forged the same record with a goal differential of 25-6, and boasts scoring threats such as 18-year-old wunderkind Patrik Laine (6-4-10), Aleksander Barkov (3-6-9), and Mikael Granlund (2-6-8).
“We play a similar style to Finland and they have a lot of guys who play in the NHL,” said Derrick Brassard, Canada’s scoring leader (3-6-9). “It is going to be a good game. They won the World Juniors and Under-18 and have a lot of really good players. We respect their team here, and it is going to be a good game.”
This game featured a battle of backup netminders, and Canada’s Calvin Pickard outdid France’s Ronan Quemener for his first Worlds shutout. The French had several chances in cold, but couldn’t beat the 24-year-old coming off his second season with the Colorado Avalanche. Pickard, who also played in the 7-1 romp over Hungary, had a light workload overall. Shots on goal favored Canada 46-13.
“We’ve played well over six games and try to keep improving,” Pickard said. “We know Finland will be tough. Tomorrow is the next step in getting ready for the medal round.”
Coach Dave Henderson’s French team did the best it could, staying within one goal for more than three-quarters of the game. But it was in vain.
“The 4-0 game is not a true reflection of the game,” opined Bellemare. “I thought we had a better performance than the score showed. They play fast and scored at the end of their power plays because we get tired. These are things we have to learn for the future.”
France had a fabulous early opportunity near the six-minute mark when Damien Fleury rang one off the post on a breakaway. Yet Canada drew first blood on a lovely passing play.
On a power play rush, Connor McDavid dropped the puck to Taylor Hall on left wing, and he centered it to Stone, whose quick release beat Quemener on the glove side at 8:32.
Defenceman Ryan Ellis made his tournament debut for Canada, replacing Ben Hutton in the lineup. The 25-year-old Ellis, who plays for the Nashville Predators, previously suited up at the 2014 Worlds. At the World Juniors, he won one gold medal (2009) and two silvers (2010, 2011), getting named Best Defenceman and a tournament all-star in 2011.
“Ryan Ellis did a good job,” said Peters. “He came in yesterday and his five years of NHL experience helps on the back end. To have a guy with 200-plus games of NHL experience and six rounds of playoffs is huge for us.”
Early in the second period, Ellis slashed Jordann Perret on another French breakaway, and the forward tossed away his glove in pain. France was awarded a penalty shot. Charles Bertrand took it, but lost the puck when he tried to deke Pickard.
The game got a little chippier, as Fleury went off for a high stick on Brad Marchand, and Gallagher was penalized for clipping Yohann Auvitu with his blade.
At 15:25, Canada went up 2-0 with the man advantage. Quemener blocked Ellis’s center point drive and Corey Perry’s attempt on the rebound, but couldn’t stop Duchene from stuffing in the third attempt.
In the third period, Scheifele gave Canada a 3-0 lead at 3:51 when he powered the rebound from Stone’s shot on the rush past Quemener. The French had a few chances down the stretch, but there was no chance they’d hear the Marseillaise at the end.
Perry made it 4-0 with 5:15 left, cutting off the side boards and finishing off a nice give-and-go with Ryan O’Reilly.
Of France’s performance, Henderson said: “We asked the team to stay disciplined and work hard but took a little water at the end and the shots were 46-13. I am happy with the way our team played. We will learn from it and go on to the next game [against Belarus].”
IHLC: With the win, Canada extends their Worlds win streak to six, and their current International Hockey Lineal Championship reign (their 60th in history) to 14 wins, dating back to the 2015 Worlds in Prague. Canada wins the “rubber” match against France in their third straight Worlds (and IHLC) meeting, with France upsetting Canada in a 2014 shootout win, followed by Canada gaining revenge in 2015 in their first successful title defense of their current reign. Canada will now face Finland tomorrow in a battle of 6-0 squads, with the winner clinching both first place in Group B and the IHLC.
07:31 – PEN – Lamperier, interference
08:32 – PP GOAL – Stone (Hall, McDavid)
13:54 – PEN – Perry, tripping
21:33 – PEN SHOT – Bertrand missed
24:09 – PEN – Fleury, high sticking
27:17 – PEN – Gallagher, high sticking
33:26 – PEN – Janil, hooking
35:26 – GOAL – Duchene (Perry, Ellis)
37:37 – PEN – Dieudé-Fauvel, hooking
43:51 – GOAL – Scheifele (Stone, Marchand)
54:45 – GOAL – Perry (O’Reilly, Gallagher)
W: Pickard (13-13)
L: Quemener (42-46)
SHOTS ON GOAL
10+16+20 = 46
4+4+5 = 13
Goaltenders: Calvin Pickard, Cam Talbot. Defence: Cody Ceci, Matt Dumba, Ryan Ellis, 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: Florian Hardy, Ronan Quemener. Defence: Yohann Auvitu (A), Grégory Beron, Benjamin Dieudé-Fauvel, Jonathan Janil, Maxime Moisand. Forwards: Pierre-Édouard Bellemare (A), Eliot Berthon, Charles Bertrand, Tim Bozon, Valentin Claireaux, Teddy Da Costa, Julien Desrosiers, Damien Fleury, Loïc Lamperier, Laurent Meunier (C), Jordann Perret, Damien Raux, Nicolas Ritz, Sacha Treille.