After four of the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship favourites met earlier in the day, it wasn't Canada and Denmark that were expected to be tied at the end of the first period. But that's how it played out in the final game of the third day of the tournament.
After Lawson Crouse nearly scored only to have WHL forward Alexander True pull the puck off the line just minutes into the game, it was actually Denmark who would open the scoring. And it was True, playing against his teammate and captain Mathew Barzal, who would score for Denmark -- effectively for the second time of the game, really.
A knack for having plays go to video review, it looked as if True might have kicked the puck in before it was ultimately decided as a good goal.
But it was only a matter of time before Canada answered, outshooting the Danes 19-4 in the period, as Islander prospect Anthony Beauvillier finished off a nice mini 3-on-1 break off a pass from Barzal. Were it not for several big saves from Mathias Seldrup, it wouldn't have taken Canada nearly 14 minutes to score.
Early in the second period, after a Mitch Marner shot deflected in off of Devils prospect John Quenneville, Canada took the 2-1 lead and didn't look back.
After the Danes took their first penalty of the game, and the tournament, Canada made it 3-1 thanks to a Barzal stutter step and shot far-side under the bar for his second point of the game. Then, moments later, Crouse got the goal he'd had denied earlier after a nice wraparound rush from Flyers prospect Travis Konecny.
Later, on another powerplay, Marner received a pass from Strome at the side of the net to beat Seldrup for his first goal of the tournament and a 5-1 lead.
After 40 minutes, Canada took a 40-11 shot advantage into the final period.
In the third period, Canada continued to dominate before finishing on its 11th shot of the period -- before Denmark had registered even one -- on a powerplay goal from Dylan Strome on a nifty drag-and-shoot move in the slot.
Unable to register a shot even on a later Marner interference penalty, Flames prospect Mason McDonald didn't face a shot in the third period, picking up a 10-save, 6-1 win on the eve of Devils prospect Mackenzie Blackwood's return from suspension.
With Blackwood set to potentially re-enter the net against Switzerland tomorrow, McDonald carries a .861 SV% (31/35) as his resume for the nod against Sweden on New Year's Eve and a chance at first place in Group A.
- The first period was Marner's best of the tournament to that point. He was great in the third against the United States, but he and Point were creating chances on every shift as a new line. Nearly tucked in two goals around the net. Was dancing with the puck in the offensive zone -- his best skill.
- Started the second period as he finished the first with two shots before his third attempt of his first shift of the period deflected off of Quenneville and in. Took the puck from behind the net to his backhand for a scoring chance midway through the second period. Narrowly missed the net on a cross-ice pass from Strome on the PP before finishing an identical play shortly after. Had a great shift, where he retrieved the puck on both sides of the ice.
- Nice carry and shot out from the corner on a Canadian PP in the third that left a rebound to an open side -- took an interference penalty moments later on an awkward centre ice collision.
- 1G, 2A, 3PTS, 2GP
- He and Sanheim made several plays at the offensive blueline together and individually to create some chances in the first period. Had the puck a lot early on.
- Picked up a secondary assist on the Crouse goal, which saw Konecny do most of the work.
- Shifted over too far to the right boards on a Canadian PP in the third period and forced Point to rush a play that sent the puck into the meshing because he didn't have a passing option. Drew a roughing penalty on Thomas Olsen by quietly holding onto his stick.
- 2A, 2PTS, 2GP