After four preliminary games, Team Canada appears to have found their identity.
“They’re a real strong opponent but we played our best game so far,” Dylan Cozens said following Team Canada’s 4-1 win over Team Finland on Thursday night. “We reloaded hard on pucks and they had a tough time getting out of their zone, that was all because of our track.”
Cozens scored twice as Canada dominated the Finns to close out Group ‘A’ action at the World Juniors in Edmonton.
With earlier games against a short-staffed Team Germany and an underwhelming Team Switzerland squad resulting in routs, Finland represented Canada’s toughest challenge to date.
Apart from a push back in the third period, Finland had no answer for a dominant forechecking Canadian squad for much of the night.
“At the start of the game we weren’t ready at all. Team Canada was so good,” Finnish head coach Antti Pennanen said. “They played with high speed that it was a high-demanding game for us.”
Devon Levi made 18 saves for Canada (4-0-0-0), who will face the Czech Republic in quarterfinal action at the World Juniors on Saturday.
Dylan Holloway and Peyton Krebs also had goals for Canada.
Brad Lambert scored the lone goal for Finland (3-0-0-1). His goal snapped Levi’s shutout streak of 106:29.
Kari Piiroinen made 36 saves for Finland.
Cozens opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the tournament. Canada was on a 3-on-2 while on the attack. Cozens elected to keep it and beat Piiroinen for a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first period.
Canada has scored in the opening five minutes in all four preliminary games in the tournament.
Finland was slow to establish any form of attack. Their first shot on goal came at 9:48 of the opening frame.
Canada outshot Finland 17-1 after 20 minutes, but only led 1-0 after the first period. The Canadians also failed to capitalize on a pair of power-play opportunities.
“I’m not going to lie, I would have loved to be up by a few goals,” Canada head coach Andre Tourigny said of the period. “But up 1-0 the only thing on my mind was we need to keep playing that way. Don’t change a thing.”
The second period was similar to that of the first.
Holloway made it 2-0 Canada when he deflected a shot from Jakob Pelletier. Braden Schneider picked up the second assist at 6:54.
Krebs gave Canada a 3-0 lead when he picked up the rebound from Bowen Byram’s point shot. Connor Zary picked up the second assist at 12:58.
Canada continued to outpace Finland as they outshot them 18-6 after 40 minutes.
Finland got its first power play of the game in the third period, and they cashed in on the opportunity when Lambert’s shot went off Canada’s Thomas Harley and beat Levi for a goal. Topi Niemela and Juuso Parssinen picked up assists at 5:05.
Finland continued to press as Canada shifted to a defensive mode to hold onto the lead.
Cozens scored his second goal of the game with an empty-netter at 18:43 to ice it for Canada.
Dubbed as the ‘Workhorse from Whitehorse’, Cozens has stood out as Canada’s most consistent player at the World Juniors. His speed and two-way ability has helped carry Canada’s offence. With its captain, Kirby Dach, unavailable to the team after suffering a broken wrist in pre-tournament play against Team Russia, Cozens has become a leader on the scoresheet and in the dressing room.
“He competes and he wants it, he wants to be a difference maker,” Tourigny said of Cozens. “Now he has the maturity to stay with it.”
Apart from some issues on the power-play (0-for-5), Canada put on a dominant performance that should put the remaining teams on notice. Despite an impressive outing against the Finns, there doesn’t appear to be any overconfidence from Canada heading into the knockout stages.
“The Czech (Republic) did us a favour by beating the Russians,” Tourigny said, “They showed us how good they can be.”
NOTES: Canada forward Alex Newhook left the game at the start of the second period. Newhook appeared to favour his shoulder after a collision with Finnish defenceman Eemil Viro in the first period. Newhook returned to the bench for the start of the second period, but went back to the dressing room and did not return. An update on Newhook’s status is expected on Friday, according to Tourigny… With Schneider’s assist, every skater on Canada’s roster has recorded at least one point.
McIlroy hoping for ‘close to normal’ Ryder Cup
(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy said he is hopeful that a near-capacity crowd will be able to attend the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September.
McIlroy said organizers had made the right call by deciding not to stage the event without fans last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m excited for the Ryder Cup,” McIlroy told the European Tour’s website.
“Hopefully, with how the vaccine is being rolled out, we are starting to see some light at the end the tunnel with this pandemic.
“It may not be the full, full capacity that a Ryder Cup usually is, but hopefully it will be very close to what a normal Ryder Cup is and I am excited for that.”
McIlroy, who is playing at the Abu Dhabi Championship this week, said he was in a good frame of mind.
“I’m raring to go after the Christmas break, I’ve done some good practice and you come into the new season with renewed optimism and a lot of goals,” McIlroy said. “I guess that has translated into some good golf here.
“I keep getting myself into contention and someone goes out and has a really good Sunday but I need to take the initiative and have one of those really good Sundays myself to get over the line.”
The Ryder Cup will be held from Sept. 24-26.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
Canadiens’ penalty killers simply perfect in Edmonton
“We had some good sticks tonight,” said Weber. “(The Oilers) were trying to hit seams and we were able to get sticks in lanes. (Goaltender Jake Allen) was able to make the first save and we were able to clear the puck after that.”
Julien rotated seven forwards on the PK to ensure there were fresh legs on the ice.
“Having more bodies allows us to be more aggressive,” said Weber. “Obviously, our forwards are trying to use their speed against the other team and that allows us to be more aggressive.”
Artturi Lehkonen completed the Montreal scoring with a short-handed goal. Not only did the Oilers go 0-for-10 on the power play in the two games in Edmonton, but they also gave up short-handed goals to Lehkonen and Jake Evans.
As good as the PK was, the fact that it had to work so hard indicates that the Canadiens have to do a better job of staying out of the box. It should also be noted that Weber and Romanov received cross-checking penalties. It might be a coincidence, but the penalties came in the wake of complaints that the Canadiens manhandled Auston Matthews last week in Toronto.
The Canadiens are bigger this year and they are playing bigger. They also outhit the Oilers 31-17 Monday.
“We were playing hard, we have many hits,” said Romanov. “We’re playing like a team, we’re playing like a family.”
It should be noted Allen deserved a shutout. He didn’t get one because Jonathan Drouin misplayed the puck at his own blue line and that led to a breakaway goal by Shore.
The nasty look Weber directed at Drouin told you everything you need to know about the play.
Source: – Montreal Gazette
Ehlers scores OT winner as Jets rally for win over Senators – TSN
OTTAWA — Nikolaj Ehlers and the Winnipeg Jets have yet to lead a contest in regulation and yet they’ve won two of their three games to start the NHL season.
Ehlers scored in overtime as Winnipeg twice rallied from a two-goal deficit en route to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
The Jets (2-1-0) opened their season Thursday night with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames and were coming off a 3-1 loss Monday night to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ehlers scored his first goal of the season at 2:20 of overtime, moments after Winnipeg goalie Laurent Brossoit made a nice stop on Ottawa’s Drake Batherson. Blake Wheeler forced overtime for the Jets, scoring with 1:17 remaining in regulation with Brossoit on the bench for the extra attacker — a goal originally credited to Josh Morrissey before an official scoring change switched it to the Winnipeg captain.
“It (winning despite not leading in regulation) shows we don’t give up,” said Ehlers. “We battled our (butts) off to stay in the game . . . it feels good to have the two points.”
Ehlers heaped lavish praise upon Brossoit, who got the start after Connor Hellebuyck played Monday night.
“He kept us in the game,” Ehlers said. “They had a lot of good open chances, especially the last one there before our goal.
“We know we’ve got two goalies back there that keep us in games and do a great job. We’re trying to do our best to limit the shots they get, but if they play the way they’re playing right now, we’re happy.”
Added Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice: “He (Ehlers) can be so dangerous, such a dynamic player late in a game, just the speed to get into that hole and then make the play that finishes it,. We need him to feel confident and healthy and strong and when he is he’s just so very dynamic.”
Adam Lowry and Kyle Connor also scored for Winnipeg, which was outshot 41-28 in the contest.
“I guess you should wrap all of us up in our goaltending,” Maurice said. “That’s the key in our game, our goaltending has been outstanding.”
Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Alex Galchenyuk scored for Ottawa (1-1-1).
The game was the first of three in five days between the two clubs. They’ll square off again in the nation’s capital Thursday night before returning to Winnipeg on Saturday.
Winnipeg was minus forward Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) for a second straight game. He’s listed as day to day.
Rookie forward Tim Stutzel, who’s dealing with a nagging minor injury, didn’t play for Ottawa. The third overall selection in the 2020 NHL draft, who has a goal through two games with the Senators, is also considered day to day.
Maurice said Tuesday’s game was an indication of just how important it is for a team to continue playing hard and believing in the process, regardless of the score. Ottawa controlled much of the play and held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 but couldn’t break Winnipeg’s will.
“That’s the most important piece for any team, that the score on the clock doesn’t dictate your effort level and your compete level,” Maurice said. “The late comeback wins have a really nice impact on your team.
“You carry those for a number of games. You always feel that you have a chance.”
Ottawa dominated the first, outshooting Winnipeg 18-9, and was rewarded with the opening two goals of the contest.
Norris opened the scoring on the power play at 4:41. He registered his first NHL goal when he slid the puck in off Brossoit’s skate.
Conner came close to putting Winnipeg on the scoresheet when he fired a shot off the goalpost on the power play. But Tierney put Ottawa ahead 2-0 with a deflection at 10:31 for his second of the season.
Lowry pulled Winnipeg to within 2-1 at 18:09. He deflected Neal Pionk‘s shot from the point past Matt Murray — making his third straight start in goal for Ottawa — for his first of the year.
It was more of the same in the second as Ottawa outshot Winnipeg 14-8 in the period and went back ahead by two goals at 11:47 of the second on Galchenyuk’s power-play blast. It was his first of the season but Winnipeg countered with Connor’s goal with the man advantage at 16:12.
It was Connor’s third of the season. He’s scored in all three Jets games in 2021.
“He’s scratching the surface here,” Maurice said of Connor. “He hasn’t been lucky in his start and he’s putting up great numbers.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 19. 2021.
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