Canada beats China, setting up rematch in qualification round at Olympics

By Mike Koreen, Sportsnet

The last time the Canadian men’s hockey team had to play in the sudden-death qualification round at the Olympics, things worked out quite nicely.

Canada can only hope 2022 is 2010 all over again — albeit with someone less famous than Sidney Crosby scoring the Golden Goal.

Minutes after the Canadians (2-1) wrapped up the first round with a 5-0 win over China (0-3) on Sunday in Beijing, their chances of earning one of four direct berths to the quarterfinals ended when the United States (3-0) beat Germany 3-2.

Now, Canada has to play an extra elimination game — and it will come Tuesday against the same Chinese squad making its Olympic debut.

Though China does not appear to pose a serious threat to Canada, it will force the country to play on back-to-back days with a potential quarterfinal matchup against Sweden looming.

The three group winners — the Americans, Finland and Russia — and the top second-place team — Sweden — go directly to the quarterfinals. Canada looked like it had a good shot to be the top second-place team, but Finland’s three-goal rally in a 4-3 overtime win over Sweden earlier in the day ensured both of those teams would move on by virtue of the Swedes getting a point for an OT loss.

In 2010 in Vancouver, Canada crushed Germany 8-2 in the qualifying round before beating Russia, Slovakia and, finally, the U.S. on Crosby’s famous overtime winner to capture gold.

While China was more competitive than it was in an 8-0 loss against the Americans to open the tournament on Sunday, there was little tension for Canadian fans.

Canada scored three goals in the first 10:06 — and it was simply a case of running out the clock after that.

Coach Claude Julien started Matt Tomkins in net after Edward Pasquale struggled in a 4-2 loss to the Americans, but it’s hard to make much of an evaluation on the 27-year-old Edmonton native as he faced few dangerous chances against China. Tomkins finished with 26 saves.

NCAA star Devon Levi, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, dressed as Tomkins’ backup. Levi was named the top goalie at last year’s World Junior Championship.

Eric O’Dell, Kent Johnson, Adam Tambellini, Corban Knight and Ben Street scored for Canada.

China has nearly a dozen Canadians on its roster. Most of the group has played together this season on the Kunlun Red Star, who sit last in the KHL standings.

China lost 3-2 to the Germans in its other game.

RELATED: Daily Recap: Canada’s results at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Qualification round (Tuesday games)

No. 5 Canada vs. No. 12 China
No. 6 Denmark vs. No. 11 Latvia
No. 7 Czech Republic vs. No. 10 Switzerland
No. 8 Germany vs. No. 9 Slovakia

Byes to quarterfinals (Wednesday)

No. 1 United States
No. 2 Finland
No. 3 Russia
No. 4 Sweden

United States 2, Germany 1

The youthful Americans secured the only perfect record (all regulation wins) in the first round with a win Germany. Steven Kampfer, Nathan Smith and Matt Knies scored for the U.S. Patrick Hager and Tom Kuhnhackl scored for Germany.

Finland 4, Sweden 3 (OT)

The Finns rallied from a 3-0 deficit after two periods to beat the Swedes and win a battle for first in Group C. Harri Pesonen scored the overtime winner. Former Edmonton Oilers forwards Iiro Pakarinen, with two, and Teemu Hartikainen scored in regulation for Finland. Lucas Wallmark, Lukas Bengtsson and Anton Lander, also a former Oiler, scored for Sweden.

Slovakia 5, Latvia 2

In a battle of winless teams, Slovakia emerged victorious as 17-year-old Juraj Slafkovsky scored the winner for his fourth goal of the tournament. Slafkovsky is projected to be a high pick in this year’s NHL Draft. Former Toronto Maple Leaf Martin Marincin, Peter Cehlarik, Peter Zuzin and Tomas Jurco, who had a cup of coffee with the Oilers in 2019-20, also scored for Slovakia. Ronalds Kenins and Miks Indrasis scored for Latvia.

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