American defenceman Ryan McDonagh scored just 4:22 into Tuesday night’s game, knocking a rebound past Canadian goalie Carey Price, but only a few shifts later Matt Duchene tied the game, and 14 seconds after that Corey Perry put Canada up for good in this crucial World Cup of Hockey matchup.
The result prompted Stanley Cup-winning forward Phil Kessel of the Pittsburgh Penguins, left off the American team because management wanted a tough, physical squad to compete against Canada, to take a shot on his Twitter account.
There was plenty to put your finger on in determining why Canada has back-to-back wins to begin this tournament and now has won 12 in a row in best-on-best contests since its 5-3 loss to the U.S. in the final game of the preliminary round at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Canada’s bottom set of forwards consists of two kids (Ryan O’Reilly and Duchene) and an old goat (Joe Thornton).
Duchene and O’Reilly, both 25, are the youngest players on the Canadian roster, while the 37-year-old Thornton is the oldest.
This was especially evident late in the second period, when Thornton, Duchene and O’Reilly had the puck for an extended length of time in the U.S. zone to set up a couple of bombs from defenceman Shea Weber. Finally, U.S. defenceman Erik Johnson, whose first-period turnover led to Duchene’s second goal, flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty and some relief.
A dozen years ago, the last time the World Cup of Hockey was played, Thornton was 25, the same age as O’Reilly and Duchene. Thornton played some of his best hockey, won tournament MVP honours and led Canada to the championship.
But with all his experience, the San Jose Sharks centre didn’t feel it was necessary to offer any words of wisdom to his younger linemates for this event.
Duchene and O’Reilly played junior hockey against each other for two seasons and broke into the NHL together as teenagers with the Colorado Avalanche in 2009. O’Reilly was traded to the Buffalo Sabres prior to last season, but it’s like they never had any time apart.
Duchene especially stood out against the U.S. He admitted he was fired up after all the talk about the Americans upping their grit level in order to have better success against the Canadians, and his play caught his coach’s eye.
“He gives us good speed, and obviously he answered the bell here tonight.”