HERNING, Denmark — Just hours removed from a tightly contested overtime win over Latvia, Canada took no chances in its final preliminary round game at the world hockey championship.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist as Canada finished off its round-robin schedule with a workmanlike 3-0 win over Germany on Tuesday. Less than 18 hours after Connor McDavid’s overtime winner clinched a quarterfinal berth, Canada controlled Tuesday’s game from start to finish at Jyske Bank Boxen.
“It was a quick turnaround (between games),” said Tyson Jost, who picked up his fourth goal of the tournament in the third period. “You’re not used to that in the National Hockey League.
“I thought we handled it well. No excuses, that’s just hockey. We’re playing the game we love.”
Just 20 seconds into the first period, Brayden Schenn put the Canadians on the board when he directed a pass in the slot from Nugent-Hopkins past sliding German goaltender Niklas Treutle.
Nugent-Hopkins scored his fourth of the tournament at 8:14 of the second period with a shot that went between a screened Treutle’s pads.
McDavid, Canada’s leading scorer, picked up his 12th and 13th points of the tournament with assists on Canada’s first two goals.
In the third, Jost rounded out the scoring when he converted a pass into the slot from Joel Edmundson.
Starting in back-to-back games, Darcy Kuemper wasn’t busy but stayed calm when Germany was able to generate traffic near his crease in the second period. He stopped 12 shots for his first shutout of the tournament.
“I thought we did a good job of taking care of our bodies last night and getting ready to go again,” said Kuemper. “I thought as a team, we played super responsible. We were committed to playing defensively, even starting in the (offensive) zone, all the way back. That’s what we want to build on going into the medal round here, so I think we’re right where we want to be.”
With a quarterfinal berth already locked down, Tuesday’s game served as a tune-up for the playoff round as coach Bill Peters continued to experiment with line combinations and work on special teams.
For a fourth-straight game, the power play sputtered. Canada has now failed to score on its last 16 man-advantage opportunities.
“We’ll get it addressed,” said Peters. “We’ll change it again.
“We’ll work on it tomorrow when we get into Copenhagen. We’ve got some ice time and it’ll be an area that we definitely have to address. It’ll need to be fixed if we’re going to have the success that we want.”
Kyle Turris, eager to get into action even though his equipment didn’t arrive by game time, made his 2018 Canada debut in borrowed gear and was inserted onto the second power-play unit.
“The skates are (Mat) Barzal’s and the stick is (Aaron) Ekblad’s,” Turris said. “He had an extra one that I could cut down and kind of make my own. Different curve still, though, and flex.
“Just keeping it light and trying not to think about it.”
“It’s a long way to come,” added Peters. “He didn’t want to watch hockey, he wanted to play hockey, so he gutted it out.”
Pierre-Luc Dubois returned to the lineup after missing Monday’s game with a lower-body injury, while Josh Bailey was scratched with a lower-body injury of his own. On defence, Ryan Pulock drew back into the lineup, while Thomas Chabot did not dress.
The Germans knocked Canada out of gold-medal contention in the semifinal of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February, but only 10 players from that roster returned to suit up at the world championship.
Despite the addition of NHL players Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) and Dennis Seidenberg (New York Islanders), the Germans were unable to build off their Olympic success in Denmark. Marco Sturm’s group will not advance to the quarterfinal after finishing sixth in Group B with just one regulation win and one overtime win in seven games.
Tuesday’s win guarantees Canada a third-place finish in Group B. The Canadians will now travel to Copenhagen and cross over to play the second-place team from Group A in Thursday’s quarterfinal, either Sweden or Russia. A quarterfinal win will give Canada the opportunity to play for a medal for the fourth straight year after winning gold in 2015 and 2016 and silver in 2017.
In early action on Tuesday, Finland clinched first place in Group B with a 6-2 win over the United States and Switzerland locked down fourth place in Group A with a 5-1 win over France. Slovakia beat Belarus 7-4 in a match between teams already eliminated from medal-round contention.
Thursday’s quarterfinals in Herning will see Finland meet Switzerland while the United States plays the Czech Republic.
Carol Schram, The Canadian Press