Atkinson’s shootout winner leads United States to 5-4 win over Canada at worlds

HERNING, Denmark — With Connor McDavid forced to watch a shootout from the bench, Canada opened the 2018 world hockey championship by coming up short against the archrival Americans.

Cam Atkinson scored the shootout winner to give the United States a 5-4 win over Canada on Friday. Atkinson’s second shootout goal gave the U.S a 2-1 edge midway through the sixth round of the extra session.

Jordan Eberle had a chance to tie for Canada, but he couldn’t beat American goalie Keith Kinkaid.

McDavid, Canada’s captain and offensive catalyst, was ineligible for the shootout after taking a penalty late in overtime.

“It’s not fun to watch your team go through a shootout, especially when you’re an offensive guy and you’d obviously like to be out there,” he said. “I thought the guys did a nice job of hanging in there.”

Canada showed plenty of speed and skill, but had to come back from two one-goal deficits to force overtime before falling in the shootout.

“They played well,” Canada forward Brayden Schenn said. “We know we can play better.

“In a shootout, anything happen. It sucks losing the first game, but it’s a learning lesson. It’s a long tournament.”

The Canadians outshot the U.S. 44-24 through 65 minutes at Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, Denmark.

“Both teams off the start were loose,” McDavid said. “We didn’t play well defensively, they didn’t play well defensively.

“We got out to the lead we wanted but our game got away from us, and we’ve got to find a way to bring it back. I like the way we were able to compete and get ourselves back in the game and earn at least one point.”

Canada held the early edge in play and jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Ryan O’Reilly. But the Americans stuck with their game plan and found a way to exploit Darcy Kuemper, who struggled with shots to his blocker side.

“Not happy with the four goals but I was just focusing on making the next save,” Kuemper said. “I was just trying to bear down and do what I could to stay in and keep the team it. It went all the way to a shootout — one shooter away from winning it and then it’d be a little bit of a different story.”

“I thought there were a couple of pucks he didn’t find either that he needed to track,” added coach Bill Peters about his netminder. “But some of the saves he made were on Grade A opportunities. We just gave up too much quality tonight.”

Anders Lee got the U.S. on the board with a high shot to Kuemper’s blocker side with 6:01 to play in the first before Dylan Larkin and Johnny Gaudreau converted to give the Americans a 3-2 lead by the midway mark of the period.

After being foiled on two breakaways earlier in the game, Anthony Beauvillier tied the game for Canada when he converted a rebound off an Aaron Ekblad shot from the blue line with 2:07 left in the second.

Larkin scored his second of the game at the 3:27 mark of the third, using his speed to create space before firing a soft shot low to the blocker side.

The Americans controlled play in the third period outshooting Canada 12-9, but the Canadians forced overtime with 9:12 left to play in regulation. McDavid picked up his first point of the tournament when he fed Colton Parayko in the slot, and the defenceman first a shot through Kinkaid’s pads.

“Just a bit of a scrum and the puck squirted out,” McDavid said. “Good job by Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and O’Ry (Ryan O’Reilly) to get the puck down there. I just tried to find the d-man breaking to the net.”

In overtime, the Canadian trio of McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Aaron Ekblad — all first-overall draft picks — controlled play whenever they were on the ice. Blake Coleman took a holding penalty in the extra frame to set up a 4-on-3 power play, but the Canadians couldn’t capitalize. McDavid’s penalty gave the Americans a brief power play of their own before the shootout began.

Atkinson and Eberle traded shootout goals before Atkinson won it for the United States.

Hosting the world championship for the first time, Denmark was scheduled for a much-anticipated game against Germany later Friday.

In Group A action on Friday in Copenhagen, Russia beat France 7-0, while the defending world gold medallists from Sweden faced off against Belarus in the late game.

After winning gold in 2015 and 2016, the Canadians settled for silver after a shootout loss to Sweden in Cologne, Germany in 2017. Canada’s next game is Sunday against South Korea, starting at 6:15 a.m. ET.

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