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Crosby-led Canada still can't be beat in best-on-best hockey

01 October 2016

If Game 1 of the final series earned criticism for a distinct lack of emotion from both Canada and the Air Canada Center crowd in Canada's 3-1 victory, Game 2 was the polar opposite as fans periodically booed Canada's lack of execution and then came alive in the final, white-knuckle moments and stayed en masse as Canadian players paraded around the ice with the World Cup of Hockey trophy and "O Canada" echoed through the arena. When the opposition finally gets a hold of the puck for the odd scoring chance, whether that was in Sochi or here at the World Cup, the last guy standing in its way is Price, whose demeanor is ideal for this team. The Bruins winger took advantage of a nice pass from Jonathan Toews to beat Jaroslav Halak.

With less than two minutes remaining, Europe got a power play chance when Drew Doughty high-sticked Tobias Rieder.

Down a goal with 3 minutes left, the high-powered Canadians kicked it up a notch and Team Europe simply couldn't stop them.

On Thursday, Duchene added to his collection, as Canada scored twice in the final three minutes to stun Team Europe 2-1, and sweep the World Cup of Hockey final.

"Well obviously it's special for him and his family and the opportunity he had here", Canada coach Mike Babcock said.

The World Cup numbers still look pretty good: Canada went 6-0-0, outscored teams 24-8 and trailed on only three occasions.

Canada has won 16 straight games, including two Olympic gold medals, since losing to the the 2010 Olympics. "But it's an unbelievable atmosphere to play here at home, to be a hockey player playing for Team Canada and be with this group of guys has been a lot of fun". Despite playing on Canada's fourth line, he amassed four points in six games, finishing fifth in tournament scoring. I think our country is deeper, but you only get to play five guys at a time.

SUPER STREAK: Crosby, coming off his second Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, has won 25 straight games with a maple leaf on his sweater. "It's not the Olympics", Babcock said in an unsolicited comparison of the two events.

That lead held up for most of the game, and just as Europe thought they might have done enough to push the final to a third game Canada's fifth power play delivered the equalizer.

The lone blemish on Price's ledger in the final game of the best-of-three championship came off the stick of another WHL alumni as defenceman Zdeno Chara (Prince George Cougars) scored the lone marker for Team Europe.

"In Sochi we were (so much) better than the other teams that they couldn't touch the puck", Babcock said. "So we were able to get a good start there in the first game". The whole tournament was a big stage, of course, but for me it comes back down to the performances in the semifinal against Russian Federation and two-game finals against Europe. Down 1-0 in the second, and with Canada finally getting some pressure, Tavares looked at a wide open net with Halak shaded to the right and forcefully, accurately hit the dang post. The New York Islanders netminder gave his team a chance every single time out.

Though Duchene did not figure in Canada's scoring during the final, he did have himself quite the tournament. They took that 1-0 lead and then deflected Canada, frustrated them.

The 5-foot-9 Marchand scored a crucial game-tying goal in the waning moments of the second period against Russian Federation, and then set the tone for the third period with Canada's third goal of the night. Canadian defenders mismanaged pucks at the blue line twice on a first-period power play, leading to unsafe short-handed rushes for the Europeans, both of which were stopped by Price.

"The way it turned out in the end is of course very painful", said Krueger. "And definitely when you can get a good start, it builds confidence, and that's a big part of it", Crosby said.