Crosby-led Canada still can't be beat in best-on-best hockey
TORONTO (AP) Canada had no interest in playing Game 3 against Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey finals.
Pushed to the brink of possibly playing a decisive game, the Canadians picked it up a notch and there simply was nothing the Europeans could do about it.
Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal with 43.1 seconds left after Patrice Bergeron tied it with 2:53 to go on a power play, giving Canada to a 2-1 victory over Europe on Thursday night and the World Cup of Hockey title.
What was Sidney Crosby thinking in the final minutes?
''We don't want to go to Game 3,'' he said after winning the MVP award with a World Cup-high 10 points, helping Canada win the best-of-three series 2-0. ''Anything can happen in one game. Especially the last 10 minutes, we were really pressing.''
Here are some takeaways from the last game of the first World Cup of Hockey since 2004:
OH, CANADA: Like the U.S. in Olympic basketball, the rest of the world is trying to catch Canada in hockey. Sure, a group of NHL players from eight European nations played better than the Canadians for much of Game 2. But when it mattered most, the Canadians flexed their muscle, used their speed and flashed their talent to take care of business. Canada has won 16 straight best-on-best hockey games and two Olympic gold medals since getting stunned by the U.S. early in the 2010 Olympics. During the dominating streak, the Canadians have won by an average of more than 2+ goals per game.
''The only way you get to celebrate being the best in the world is when you prove it,'' Canada coach Mike Babcock said.
SUPER STREAK: Crosby , coming off his second Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, has won 25 straight games with a maple leaf on his sweater. In addition to the 16-game, best-on-best streak, Crosby helped Canada win nine straight games at the 2015 world championships.
''In the biggest moments, he turns it up,'' Babcock said.
PRICE IS NICE: Canada goaltender Carey Price has not played in an NHL game in more than 10 months because a knee injury knocked him out of the Montreal Canadiens' lineup last season. Rusty? Hardly. Price made 32 saves in the final game of the World Cup, lowering his goals-against average to 1.4 and improving his record to 5-0 in the tournament.
''We took a lot of risks in this game and Carey Price was, once again, was just amazing,'' Europe coach Ralph Krueger said.
At the Sochi Games, Price's GAA was 0.59 and his record was 5-0 to help Canada win gold at the second straight Winter Olympics.
MISSING IN ACTION: Anze Kopitar was arguably Europe's best player, but he didn't score a goal and had just four points in six games. The Los Angeles Kings forward from Slovenia bristled when asked about Crosby's line following Game 1, saying he didn't match up with the trio. Kopitar did start Game 2 matched up with Crosby, Marchand and Bergeron. Given the last change as the home team, Krueger also put Kopitar in the game at other times when Crosby and Co. were in the game. Like a lot of players, even some of the world's best, Kopitar came up short trying to slow down Canada's top line. And when Canada was attacking late in the game, Kopitar was called for holding and Canada took advantage with a game-tying goal.
PARTING SHOT: Some chuckled at the concept of combining eight European nations, outside of the continent's traditional powers, before the tournament began. By the end of it, though, no one was laughing at a team that deserved to be in the finals.
''This group just continued to surprise and beat the odds and beat the thoughts of everybody that was watching,'' Krueger said. ''Looking back, I know with some distance from today, we will do nothing but celebrate this month of September 2016 as a special month for this Team Europe group and what they did here.''
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