KOSICE Ė Canada defeated Norway 3-2 this afternoon at Steel Arena to earn one of eight spots in the quarter-finals on May 11 and 12. Jonathan Bernier, making the first World Championship start of his career, got the win.
Norway-Canada 2-3 (0-1, 0-1, 2-1) Game Sheet Photos
Jason Spezza, John Tavares, and James Neal were the scorers for Canada while Rick Nash had two assists. Ken Andre Olimb and Marius Holtet replied for Norway in an exciting third period.
"I was excited," said Bernier, "because I haven't played for about a month, so for me the big thing was to get that first shot on goal and get used to the bigger ice surface."
The only time Norway had beaten Canada in 18 previous meetings was May 1, 2000, a 4-3 decision. This game seemed to be another routine victory after 50 minutes, but the Canadians nearly collapsed and the Norwegains nearly pulled off a stunning rally.
It might have been no surprise to learn that the tournamentís top three scorers were in the game, but it would be shocking to know two were on Norway. Mathis Olimb led the way with nine points and right behind him with seven were Tavares and Anders Bastiansen.
Tavares moved into second spot with eight based on his goal and the pointless games from the two Norwegians.
"We were a little bit not on our toes at the beginning," Bastiansen admitted, "but in the third we almost tied the game. Overall, we're pretty satisfed with how we played. We just have to focus on the next one against France."
Canada had a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes, but then the fireworks started. Canada looked to have salted away the victory midway in the third on a nice play, captain Nash making a lovely pass to Neal who roofed a beautiful shot past Haugen.
But Norway couldn't say quit and Canada relaxed. Ken Andrť Olimb got the first Norway goal midway through the third, walking out in front and beating Bernier between the pads.
Just 1:13 later, Holtet made things interesting when he beat Bernier with a long shot low to the stick side. A minute later, Spezza took a penalty, but the Canadians killed that off without incident.
Coach Roy Johansen pulled his goalie with 90 seconds left, but the Norwegians never came close to tying the game.
Canada got the only goal of the opening period on a scramble in front of goalie Lars Haugen, the puck finally squirting free for Jason Spezza to snap home at 15:26. Haugen has played every minute in the tournament for Norway, and for good reason, but he was unlucky on that play. Both teams had 5-on-3 chances in the period, but neither produced many good chances.
The pattern repeated itself in the second. Again, Canada got the only goal of a more wide open period. Tavares controlled a loose puck at his blueline and barreled down the ice while being pursued by two Norwegian defenders, but he fought off their checks and drilled a perfect shot between Haugenís legs at 10:15 to make it 2-0.
The goal typified Canadaís approach to the game, which was be patient and wait for chances. The Norwegians werenít as strong or skilled as their opponents, but they did know how to play a strong defensive game.
That being said, Norway had several great chances around Bernierís goal late in the period on the power play, but the goalie was letter perfect in response.
"For us young guys, it's all about getting the confidence of playing in tight games like this and being able to succeed," Tavares suggested.
Canada closes out its Qualification Round with a game against Sweden on Monday, with first place in the group possibly on the line.
Norway plays its last two Qualification Round Games against Switzerland and France and is still in the run for a quarter-final berth.