Auston Matthews and the underdog United States team showed it is for real on Saturday with an opening-game victory over Canada.
The U.S. scored three times in the third period, including two 41 seconds apart, to steal a 4-2 victory over the defending gold-medalists. Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL draft, had an assist and scored the fourth goal.
The winning and insurance goals for the U.S. resulted from the shots from the point. On the third goal Louis Belpedio’s shot was foolishly tipped by Canadian defenceman Joe Hicketts and into the net.
It was Canada’s first loss in a tournament-opening game since 1998. Canada traditionally has opened the tournament with easy wins over low-seeded teams. It was the first time since 1996 that Canada and the U.S. met in the opening game. After trading second-period goals, the U.S. and Canada were both gifted power plays in the third period that led to goals. After Dylan Strome tied it 2-2 Canada seemed to have the momentum before the shocking U.S. goals late in the third.
Earlier in the game, American forward Alex DeBrincat was ejected for spearing Canada’s Travis Konecny after a whistle.
It was the fourth ejection on the opening day of the tournament. DeBrincat received a five-minute major and game misconduct, but Canada failed to score on the extended power play.
Canada will try to get into the win column on Monday when it faces Denmark. The U.S. has another tough test against Sweden on Monday.