HALIFAX – Canada and the USA battled all afternoon at the Halifax Metro Centre, and when the dust had settled, Canada had won, 5-4. Dany Heatley, on a patented one-timer, broke a 4-4 tie with just 46.8 seconds left. It was his second of the game and tournament-leading sixth of the 2008 World Championship. He also leads with ten points.
The win gives Canada first place in Group B standings heading into the Qualification Round starting Thursday. USA will finish second.
The Americans came out and, in the language of Stompin’ Tom Connors, "stormed the crease like bumblebees," generating two early power plays and many great scoring chances. But goalie Cam Ward held the team in there and the defence protected him well in the slot. The U.S. power play, which had scored seven times with the extra man in its first two games, could do no damage against Canada in the opening period.
This is where Canada’s experience came to the fore. The team weathered the American storm, and then went on the attack and scored a lightning-bolt of a goal. They had the puck in the U.S. end for nearly a minute, and finally a Brent Burns point shot found its way through several bodies past a helpless Tim Thomas.
The Americans fully deserved the lead, but it was 1-0 for Canada at 8:26 of the first period.
The play of the period, though, belonged to Ward who kept the game 1-0 with a phenomenal glove grad off Adam Burish on a breakaway.
"Ward played great for us," Canadian captain Shane Doan said. "He stopped a breakaway, a 2-on-1. He was outstanding."
The second half of the period was a duplication of the first. The Americans continued to pour on the offense, but it was Canada that scored the only other goal. The high-scoring trio of Rick Nash-Dany Heatley-Ryan Getzlaf moved the puck around in the American end after some good forechecking, and Heatley snuck a quick shot past Thomas with just 10.8 seconds left in the period.
Canada headed to the dressing room ahead 2-0 despite being outshot, 13-6.
"We were getting the chances, but their goalie played well. We just continued to battle all night long," Patrick O'Sullivan said.
The second saw Canada bolt into a 3-0 lead just 18 seconds into the second when Jonathan Toews jumped on a loose puck and ripped it over Thomas’s glove. Credit to the Americans, though, they saw this goal not as a nail in the coffin but as a wakeup call.
"I think it was a great game, and we showed a lot of people we can play with them. We never gave up," O'Sullivan said.
Just 24 seconds after Toews scored, they got back into the game with a goal from Zach Parise. Two minutes later, they capitalized on a defensive lapse by Canada and Patrick O’Sullivan went in alone to beat Ward on the deke.
The Americans dominated the rest of the period except when the Nash line was on the ice. Ward played sensationally and the Americans certainly lacked finish around the Canadian net.
Canada held the 3-2 lead heading into the final period, and U.S. coach John Tortorella inserted backup goalie Craig Anderson into the net. Just 3:29 into the period, though, Canada scored for the fourth time only seconds after their first power play of the night had expired. Derek Roy one-timed a sensational pass from the corner by Chris Kunitz to make it 4-2.
The relentless Americans, though, struck back two minutes later, finally converting on their vaunted power play with a goal similar to the Roy-Kunitz combination. Parise made a great pass from the corner and Dustin Brown finished the play.
They tied the game on their fifth power play of the night, again a quick pass leading to a one-timer by Jason Pominville that Ward had no chance on.
And then, with less than a minute to play, the Americans were caught deep in Canada’s end and the Canadians broke out on a 4-on-2. Getzlaf tore down the left side and fed Heatley, who made no mistake, sending the 9,192 fans into a frenzy.
"Give them credit," Doan said in praise. "They could have given up when it was 3-0, but they kept on us. We were a little sloppy and had too many giveaways, so we'll have to work on that."
NOTES: Team Canada 1976 was honoured during the first intermission. Twelve members of the team came to the Team Canada bench to loud applause: Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin, Jim Watson, Bobby Hull, Lanny McDonald, Bill Barber, Pete Mahovlich, Danny Gare, Darryl Sittler, Reg Leach, coach Scotty Bowman, and assistant coach Al MacNeil…the team was honoured because, in the words of Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, “it was time. This was a great team, and we needed to honour them. We want to do a lot more of this in the future.”