A sell-out crowd. Mustard-yellow jerseys, and Canada taking on those beloved Americans. It had all the makings of an international classic, and the 21,273 in attendance at the Bell Centre in Montreal were treated to just that. An end-to-end, fast-paced hockey game saw Canada leave with the upper hand in a 2-1 victory over the USA. It was however, a costly win for Canada, and a costly defeat for the Americans. Going down to injury were Canada’s Ed Jovanovski and Mike Modano of the Americans.
The game was for the most part, dominated by the Canucks with the exception of short-lived outbursts from the American side. The first period saw Canada outshoot the Americans 19-6, with Robert Esche turning aside 18 of those shots for USA. To start the second stanza, Canada took the first five shots on net. Then, as if to make things a little more interesting for those in attendance and the hundreds of thousands people watching at home on televsion, Canada eased up and let the Americans back in the game.
Canada came out with a new look – replica jerseys, gold coloured with a red maple leaf, of those worn by the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons, the first Olympic hockey gold medallists. Canada’s game plan was simple and vintage in and of itself — dump the puck in and pound the defense. As stated earlier, Canada dominated to open the game. On the powerplay at 16:01 of the first frame, Martin St. Louis redirected a Scott Niedermayer feed from behind the net and pounded it home, just under the crossbar stunning US goaltender Robert Esche. Joe Sakic also scored for Canada, in the second period. Looking comfortably in the lead, Canada let up and the Americans got back into the game on Guerin’s goal at 10:40, when he had time to gain control of a pass from Scott Gomez and whip a quick high shot past Brodeur’s glove side.
From then on in, it was lead-protection mode for the Canadians as Martin Brodeur was solid in net to hang onto the 2-1 lead. Canada goes 1-0 with the win, and the Americans fall behind to a 0-1 mark to start the tournament. Next up for the Canadiens, the Slovaks on Wednesday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The crowd of 21,273 got what they wanted — a Canadian victory — and the Americans walked out with their chins up. Old-time hockey is alive and very well, even in best-on-best global tournaments. If only we were sure it would happen come October.
Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore was among the six scratches for Team Canada. It’s not clear whether or not he’ll make his way onto the bench for tomorrow night’s match versus Slovakia.