Canada stays undefeated with 2-1 win over U.S.
Team Canada forward Ryan Strome reacts after scoring against Team USA during first period IIHF World Junior Championships hockey action in Ufa, Russia, on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, December 30, 2012 7:03AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 30, 2012 8:43AM EST
UFA, Russia -- Canadian goaltender Malcolm Subban had his best game of the world junior hockey championship so far in a 2-1 win over the United States on Sunday.
The Belleville Bulls goaltender made 36 saves for Canada, who are unbeaten in three games and face host Russia on New Year's Eve for first place in Pool B.
The winner gets a bye to the semifinal, while the loser must play in a quarter-final. Russia is currently second in the pool at 2-0-1.
Monday's game will feature the first overall picks from the last two NHL drafts.
The Edmonton Oilers made Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Burnaby, B.C., their No. 1 selection in 2011 and chose Russian forward Nail Yakupov first this year. Both are captains of their respective countries in the tournament.
Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome scored in the first period for Canada against the Americans (1-2), who need to beat Slovakia on Monday to earn a playoff berth.
Subban made several key saves as Canada was outshot 37 to 32 in the game. Canada was minus forwards Boone Jenner and J.C. Lipon, who both served suspensions.
They will be back in Canada's lineup against Russia, but the Canadians played with 11 forwards Sunday.
"It was really a character win in a lot of ways," Canadian head coach Steve Spott said. "The moral of the story tonight is our depth players, our penalty killers, you know obviously Malcolm Subban.
"I'm really proud of him. It's a big moment for Malcolm. He stood up tall to the task tonight."
Subban had given up three goals on 28 shots in each of his previous two wins in the tournament.
Canada had to kill off a boarding penalty to Nugent-Hopkins with one minute 37 seconds remaining in the game.
Defenceman Jacob Trouba pulled the U.S. within a goal at 11:02. But the Americans hurt their own comeback attempt with penalties.
Captain Jake McCabe and forward Ryan Hartman took misconducts for checking to the head later in the third period. Trouba and forward Tyler Biggs took minors as well.
U.S. goaltender John Gibson, who played for Spott's Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League, also had an excellent game with 30 saves.
"You expect the best from him every night and he laid it out on the line for us tonight," U.S. assistant captain J.T. Miller said. "Penalties kind of took us out of it. It's a bad feeling."
The U.S., which finished seventh in the 2012 tournament, has lost back-to-back games by one goal with a 2-1 loss to the Russians as well.
"We had our chances," coach Phil Housley said. "It's one thing if you're not getting the opportunities to score, but we are. We've played two very good hockey teams and had a chance to tie the game in both."
When Ty Rattie and Phil Danault were foiled on a short-handed, two-on-one scoring chance, Trouba scored a power-play goal on the following rush back to Canada's end.
Strome made it 2-0 at 18:19 of the first period with his fourth of the tournament. Brett Ritchie worked the puck out from behind the net and Strome snapped it upstairs on Gibson.
Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring for Canada at 7:13 in the first period, when his team won the faceoff in the U.S. zone. He feathered a low wrist shot past Gibson.
Subban, a Boston Bruins prospect, stopped John Gaudreau on a breakaway in the first period and held off an American flurry during a double minor to Canada's Griffin Reinhart early in the second.