It was just like last New Year’s Eve in Ottawa – a comeback victory for Canada over the United States at the world junior hockey championship.
Jordan Eberle, Nazem Kadri and Brandon Kozun all scored in a shootout, and Jake Allen made the one stop he needed to give Canada a 5-4 victory over the United States in the final round-robin game for both teams on Thursday night.
Allen closed the pads on Jordan Schroeder’s attempt, then was mobbed by his teammates after the spirited comeback victory.
“Good teams find a way to win and we kept battling,” said defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, whose shorthanded goal with 4:15 left in regulation time forced a five-minute overtime and then the shootout. “It’s unbelievable for us to have that happen again.”
Pietrangelo, Eberle and four others were on the Canadian team a year ago in the same situation that spotted the Americans a 3-0 lead and then roared back for a 7-4 win.
“Adversity’s huge,” said Eberle. “It’s what makes your team better and it’s what makes hockey fun.
“And it’s going to help us in the long run.”
The win gave Canada (4-0) first place in Pool A and a bye to the semifinal on Sunday while the U.S. (3-1) was pushed into a quarter-final game Saturday against Finland, which finished third in Pool B.
Canada will play the winner of the Russia-Switzerland quarter-final, while Group B leader Sweden will play the winner of the U.S.-Finland game.
Canada trailed 4-2 midway through the third period when Eberle’s second goal of the game brought the crowd to life.
Then, with Eberle serving a high-sticking call and looking very much like he would be the goat, Pietrangelo stole a puck in the neutral zone, skated in and blasted a shot past impressive young U.S. goalie Jack Campbell to tie the game and send the sell-out crowd of 15,171 at the Credit Union Centre into a frenzy.
“I nearly jumped out of the box when Petro scored,” said Eberle.
After a scoreless but entertaining overtime, Eberle was the first shooter and saw his backhand go off a post, off Campbell’s back and into the net. Kadri and Kozun made it 3-2 Canada in the shootout when Schroeder, who had beaten Allen on a second-period breakaway, was stopped trying the save move to the five-hole.
“He got the best of me and if he tried it again, he wasn’t going to get it through -that was the plan,” said Allen. “It’s a great feeling. I feel like Carey Price did – it puts me in his shoes.”
Allen was referring to Canada’s 2-1 shootout win over the U.S. at the 2007 world juniors, when goalie Price was the hero.
Schoeder and Tyler Johnson had scored shorthanded goals in the second period for the United States.
Philip McRae and Danny Kristo also scored for the U.S., which outskated Canada for two and a half periods, forcing numerous turnovers and getting the firts goals of the tournament against Allen, who had easy shutouts in his first two starts.
Stefan Della Rovere also scored for Canada, which earned a valuable extra day of rest with the victory as it looks to win its sixth consecutive world junior title.
“Maybe people will say we didn’t play well, but we did, it’s just that the U.S. played unreal,” said Canadian coach Willie Desjardins. “We were lucky tonight.”
The Canadians went into the game with 13 power-play goals in three games, but were blanked on six occasions.
Canada got the boost it wanted on its first chance of the game, grabbing a puck played off the boards by Campbell. Della Rovere put in a rebound at the 2:03 mark, the first even-strength goal allowed by the U.S. in the tournament.
With Brayden Schenn off for boarding, the Americans tied it as McRae took a pass from Jerry D’Amigo and scored into an open side at 3:40.
The Americans brought a heavy checking game and had a handful of good chances through the rest of the period that were turned away by Allen.
Johnson hit Schroeder with a pass behind the Canadian defence and went in alone to deke Allen shorthanded 7:08 into the second period.
Eberle got it back at 11:15 on a rush with Schenn, but Canada started playing with fire. Kreider was fouled going in alone on the net and got a penalty shot at 12:20, but fired wide. And after Jared Cowen gave up the puck at the U.S. blue-line, Kyle Palmieri went in on a breakaway and hit a goal post.
“It wasn’t what they were doing, we were giving them the puck,” said Canadian captain Patrice Cormier. “We tried to make the little fancy plays and not getting it in deep, and they were attacking off our turnovers.”
The Americans finally got a back-breaking shorthanded goal with 11 seconds left in the period when D’Amigo rushed down the left side and fired a shot that went into the air and was batted into the net by Johnson.
The same Canadian power play had just ended when Kristo broke down the left side and beat Allen 1:01 into the third period.
“We had them right where we wanted them,” said Schroeder. “We let it slip at the end, but that’s part of hockey.
“We have to move forward. If we can get through Finland and Sweden, hopefuly we’ll see them in the championship game. It was a good test for both of us. Now we know that we stood up against them and we know we can take them.”
The crowd came to life when Eberle redirected Brandon McMillan’s shot in at 10:03 and they shook the building when Pietrangelo struck for the tying goal.