Team Canada defeated Team Czech Republic 6-0 in its first game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
Team Canada and captain Sidney Crosby picked up right where they left off in the last best-on-best tournament.
Crosby, playing with forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, had a goal and two assists, turning in the same type of dominating performance that marked his play during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Canada defeated Sweden for the gold medal in that tournament, when it allowed three goals and scored 16 in six games.
Crosby’s showing for Team Canada in its Group A opener came 95 days after he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when his Pittsburgh Penguins won the championship in six games.
“I feel good,” Crosby said. “The fact that I played late into June and you’re stepping into this level, I think that helps kind of with adjusting, and I think that finding chemistry with us as a line early has helped.
“With our team, we have so much speed and so much depth, I think that if we get things rolling, everyone kind of helps each other.”
Lost among the Team Canada offense was a great comeback performance by goalie Carey Price, who made 27 saves in his first competitive game since he injured his knee Nov. 25 playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
Price was the Canada goalie in Sochi and stopped 113 of 119 shots in that tournament, earning the best goalie award. He said that Saturday felt very similar to the team he watched in front of him there.
“Obviously, the ice is different, so everything happens a little bit quicker,” Price said of the NHL dimensions. “There’s less time for our guys to hold on to the puck, but I thought our guys showed a lot of poise, made it really difficult for them to come up the ice, and that’s the type of hockey that we play.
“We make it hard to get on the offensive side of us and make it really difficult to come up the ice. Our puck pursuit was relentless all night. I think that’s what provided the result that we got.”
After an even start, Crosby turned the game on its head with a dominating 12 minutes. He scored the first goal at 8:26, banking a shot off goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Marchand scored at 17:08, deflecting a shot from Brent Burns after Crosby won the faceoff to start the play. Bergeron scored with less than one second left in the first period, with Crosby serving as a screen, to make it 3-0.
“It’s easy to play when it is a 3-0 hockey game,” Team Czech Republic forward Martin Hanzal said. “After that, they were playing the game they wanted, and that was the result.”
Joe Thornton scored at 7:22 of the second period by shoveling the puck into the net after a slap pass from Crosby temporarily froze the Team Czech Republic defence and Neuvirth.
Forward Jonathan Toews and defenceman Alex Pietrangelo each scored a power-play goal.
NOTES: Team Czech Republic centre Radek Faksa did not play in the final two periods…Team Canada scratched right wing Claude Giroux, defenceman Jake Muzzin and goalie Braden Holtby. Team Czech Republic scratched left wing Michal Birner, defenceman Tomáš Kundrátek and goalie Ondřej Pavelec.
IHLC: With the victory, Canada retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 62nd title, which they won from Team USA one week earlier and retained with an exhibition win over Russia, making them incumbent champions for the World Cup. This marks the 74th IHLC meeting between these two, and the first since an exhibition tilt in May just prior to the World Championships, a 3-0 Canada victory. The win marks Canada’s third straight IHLC shutout over Czechia, and their second World Cup matchup, the first being Canada’s overtime victory in the 2004 Semifinal. Canada will face the Americans next in three days with the IHLC up for grabs.
01:40 – PEN – Šustr, slashing
01:55 – PEN – Stamkos, holding
03:35 – PEN – Marchand, hooking
08:26 – GOAL – Crosby (Marchand, Stamkos)
17:08 – GOAL – Burns (Crosby, Bergeron)
19:59 – GOAL – Bergeron (Marchand)
23:14 – PEN – Bouwmeester, interference
27:22 – GOAL – Thornton (Crosby, Duchene)
27:57 – PEN – Burns, tripping
32:51 – PEN – Z. Michálek, hooking
34:45 – PP GOAL – Toews (Getzlaf, Tavares)
42:14 – PEN – Getzlaf, holding
47:01 – PEN – Duchene, hooking
51:32 – PEN – Nakládal, holding
52:41 – PP GOAL – Pietrangelo (Doughty, Tavares)
W: Price (27-27)
L: Neuvirth (44-50)
SHOTS ON GOAL
14+21+15 = 50
12+7+8 = 27
Goaltenders: Corey Crawford, Carey Price. Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Shea Weber (A). Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Logan Couture, Sidney Crosby (C), Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Brad Marchand, Ryan O’Reilly, Corey Perry, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews (A).
Goaltenders: Petr Mrázek, Michal Neuvirth. Defence: Michal Jordán, Michal Kempný, Zbyněk Michálek, Jakub Nakládal, Roman Polák, Andrej Šustr. Forwards: Roman Červenka, Radek Faksa, Michael Frolík, Martin Hanzal, Aleš Hemský (A), Dmitrij Jaškin, Milan Michálek, Ondřej Palát, David Pastrňák, Tomáš Plekanec (C), Vladimír Sobotka, Jakub Voráček (A).