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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Canada Keeps Cool, Slaps U.S. With 1st Loss


PHILADELPHIA -- When he launched the puck at the U.S. net, Steve Yzerman was hoping for a deflection or a lucky bounce, anything that might sustain Team Canada's offensive pressure as the clocked ticked deeper into overtime.

He never expected the bounce he got. Yzerman's soft shot struck the arm of goaltender Mike Richter, popped into the air and fell over the goal line 10:37 into sudden-death play, giving Canada a 4-3 victory over the United States Tuesday night in the opener of the best-of-three World Cup of Hockey finals.

Game 2 will be Thursday in Montreal, with Game 3, if necessary, Saturday in Montreal.

"I just threw it toward the net, trying to use the defenseman as a screen,'' said Yzerman, the Detroit Red Wings' captain. "I thought it would go wide but he reached up and went off his glove.''

Yzerman got two breaks on that play, because replays showed it to be offside. Rod Brind'Amour preceded the puck into the zone on the right side by a substantial margin, but it wasn't called by linesman Kevin Collins.

"I'd say it was 3 feet offside,'' U.S. Coach Ron Wilson said after his team lost for the first time following four victories.

Yzerman laughed at that. "I disagree,'' he said. "It was only 1 foot offside.''

Operating on the theory that two wrongs make for the right outcome, Yzerman had no qualms over winning on that goal. He contended Canadian center Mark Messier shouldn't have been thrown out of the faceoff circle in the waning seconds of the third period with the United States trailing, 3-2, and its net empty to get an extra skater on the ice.

Adam Graves replaced Messier and lost the faceoff to Joel Otto, who passed to Brian Leetch for a shot that Philadelphia Flyer forward John LeClair banged past goalie Curtis Joseph with 6.3 seconds to play.

The crowd of 18,577 at the CoreStates Center -- the largest ever to see a hockey game in Philadelphia -- roared when the United States pulled even, but its cheers didn't deflate the Canadian players.

While Canada's veteran team stayed cool, the U.S. players were nervous. They had set the pace in their previous games, but they let Canada set the pace Tuesday, and Canada capitalized when Eric Lindros deflected a shot by Rob Blake past Richter during a power play at 16:50 of the first period.

Defenseman Derian Hatcher of the Dallas Stars tied the game with a short shot over Joseph at 2:03 of the second period and put the U.S. ahead at 13:51 by keeping the puck in at the blue line and then darting to the net to tap in a pass from Tony Amonte, but Canada kept bouncing back. Claude Lemieux, his feet blatantly in the crease, tied the score at 2-2 on a goal that was reviewed but permitted to stand at 19:21 of the second period. Calgary Flame winger Theoren Fleury glided up the slot and fooled Richter at 9:58 of the third period for a 3-2 Canadian lead, which the United States matched with LeClair's goal.

However, that was the Americans' last gasp.

Canada outshot the United States in regulation 28-26. They also dominated the overtime, outshooting the Americans 7-1, although the United States withstood a rare overtime powerplay after Doug Weight was sent off for high-sticking Adam Graves.

Referee Mark Faucett was hit by a puck with 1:53 left in the third period and lost four teeth. He was unable to return for the overtime, which was officiated by Kerry Fraser.

The United States had carried a 4-0 record into the finals, including a victory over Canada in the round-robin portion of the inaugural tournament.

"In games like this experience is the deciding factor," said Canada coach Glen Sather. "We know how to win when we're pressed." ()