Hockey Worlds: Unbeaten Canada thumps Austria, quarterfinals next

We’ll follow Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic. Canada is competing for their first gold medal since 2007.

Quarterfinals up next

Canada has clinched first place in Group A, so they’ll definitely play Belarus.

As of Tuesday morning eastern time the winner of Group B is also assured Switzerland. However, the remaining quarterfinals are in question with games yet to be played on Tuesday. We do know the the four teams from each group for Thursday’s quarterfinals. Semifinals are Saturday with the bronze and gold medal games on Sunday.

Group A top-four: Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland
Group B top-four: USA, Russia, Finland, Belarus

QUIZ: Last time Canada won worlds gold, how much do you know?

Tuesday, May 12 – vs. Austria

Bottom line: Canada beat Austria 10-1 to finish the preliminary round unbeaten, they will face Belarus in a quarterfinal on Thursday.

How it went down: Tyson Barrie, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Aaron Ekblad, Jason Spezza, and Jordan Eberle scored in that order before Austria’s Dominique Heinrich tallied at 2:44 of the third to break Mike Smith’s shutout bid. Nathan MacKinnon, Brayden Schenn, and second helpings for Spezza and Duchene would complete the double-digit rout.

Preliminary round by the numbers

Team Canada record: 7-0
Team Canada goals:
49 goals for (7 GF per game) 14 goals against (2 GA per game)
Leading scorers: Matt Duchene and Jason Spezza, 4 goals + 7 assists = 11 pts (tied for scoring lead with Sweden’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson)
Top scoring d-man: Brent Burns, 7 assists
Goalies: Mike Smith, 5 GP – 2.20 GAA – .904 SV% | Martin Jones, 2 GP – 1.50 GAA – .921 SV%
Power play: 32.00% with 8 goals in 25 chances
Penalty kill: 93.75% allowing 1 goal in 16 short-handed situations

Smallest margin of victory: 1 goal vs. France

Note: The commentary here is…ummm, creative. Watch for snipes from ‘Segween’ and ‘Eeeberlie.’

Greatest margin of victory: 10 goals vs. Germany

Sunday, May 10 – vs. Switzerland

Bottom line: Canada dumped Switzerland 7-2 and is one win away from finishing the preliminary round unbeaten.

How it went down: For the second game in a row Tyler Seguin scored the first goal, an even strength marker on his first shift, 53-seconds in. The Swiss would tie it in the early going, before Canada jumped back ahead 18 seconds before the first horn on a Nathan MacKinnon left-wing snipe.

Three straight Canadian goals highlighted a dominant second period. Aaron Ekblad ripped his third tournament goal at 7:59. Jordan Eberle and Cody Eakin tallied 59 seconds apart to end the period. Really, the differentiation was the middle frame. With main man Mike Smith stopping all four opposing shots, Canada fired 18 pucks on Swiss goalie Reto Berra in the second period.

Damien Brunner had a third period marker, unassisted at 2:17 for the second Swiss goal. Later at 12:27, Sean Couturier tapped in a rebound off a Tyler Toffoli blast to make it 6-2. Then Claude Giroux would cement the rout scoring with under three minutes left. Canada outshot the Swiss 46-25.

The Canadians are now 6-and-0 in the tournament, and have clinched Group A. This is important because it means they will play the 4th-place finisher from Group B. More than likely Canada will meet Finland, Slovakia or Belarus, but that is still in question. Canada’s final preliminary round game is against Austria, 6:15 am ET on Tuesday.

The rest: With a 4-2 win over Germany the Czechs clinched a quarterfinal spot and removed all remaining German hope for the same. Islanders centre Brock Nelson had two goals and an assist to lead the USA over Slovenia by a score of 3-1. Russia beat Slovakia 3-2 in OT.

Saturday, May 9 – vs. France

Bottom line: France kept it close, even tying the game in the third, but Canada prevailed 4-3 improving to 5-and-0.

How it went down: The game proceeded to blueprint for Canada in the early stages. Tyler Seguin put the first puck beyond French starter Ronan Quemener on a power play, 11:26 into the game. Jordan Eberle followed up with his second of the tournament at 12:32 before France cut the lead back to one, at 16:31.

Canada out shot France 19-to-6 in the opening 20, after which, it was still a game by hockey standards. In the second, France would take only one shot on Martin Jones, getting his second start in the Canadian crease. The red and black adorned Canucks took 15 shots, including one on the power play from Tyler Seguin which would become his second goal of the day at 17:02 of the middle 20.

The final period was interesting. And remember, the French beat Canada in a shootout to open last year’s #IIHFWorlds. Canada’s two-goal lead disappeared when Yorick Treille tallied at 6:21 on a man-advantage, and 35 seconds later an Antoine Roussel shot hit Damien Fleury, then bounced off Jordan Eberle and into the Canadian goal.

Canada would hang in there and found their game winning goal at 9:18 of the third when Eberle absolved himself by re-directing a Brent Burns point blast. That would be it, but the French should be recognized for outshooting Canada 14-9 in a spirited third period.

#TeamCanada is assured a spot in the quarterfinals from Group A. Canada takes on Switzerland for an afternoon game Canadian time at 2:15 pm ET on Sunday, with one preliminary game to go after that.

The rest: Russia blanked Belarus 7-0 in the other daytime game. Both teams remain in the hunt for a quarterfinal spot. Latvia and Austria plus Slovakia and Finland meet up later on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 6 – vs. Sweden

Bottom line: Canada overcame a 3-0 first period deficit to win 6-4 and remain unbeaten through four tournament games.

How it went down: There was initial comfort for Sweden, as they overwhelmed the Canadians with three first period goals. Edmonton Oiler Anton Lander scored at 5:06, then Victor Rask and Filip Forsberg tallied 28 seconds apart beginning at 17:21 of the opening frame.

The Swedes outshot Canada 14-5 in the first, but the Canadians would turn their fortunes around in the second, by scoring.

Young defenceman Aaron Ekblad would get Canada on the board at 6:43 of the second, then a Taylor Hall penalty shot goal brought the Canadians within one. Sean Couturier and Oscar Moller swapped goals before the second period horn. Of note, Canada had also wrestled back puck possession, outshooting Sweden 19-9 in the middle 20.

A good, close game required a resilient finish for Team Canada. They would find another tying goal, this one over the shoulder of Swedish starter Anders Nilsson by Patrick Wiercioch at 10:24. With another 3:07 elapsed, the first Canadian lead arrived on the stick of Tyler Ennis. The Sabres forward beat Nilsson, again top-shelf, over the shoulder. Tyler Seguin added an empty netter.

Canada is the clear leader in Group A and now has two days off, which we assume will mean more of this:

The rest: Latvia picked up their first win and points of the tournament with a 2-1 overtime victory over Switzerland. Kaspars Daugavins was the hero. Russia beat Denmark 5-2 during which Evgeni Dadonov had a goal and an assist and is tied with Taylor Hall for most points scored, at eight. The USA and Russia are tied for the lead of Group B with nine points each, but the Russians have played one extra game.

Monday, May 4 – vs. Czech Republic

Bottom line: The Canadians won 6-3 after going punch-for-punch with the charged Czechs.

How it went down: The Czechs came out full-speed and forced an unreal save from Canadian starter Mike Smith on Roman Cervenka, not even two-minutes in. The game was Smith’s second start. The crowd fuelled more scoring chances for the home team in the early going.

RELATED: Who is playing for Team Canada and when

Then Jordan Eberle opened the scoring at the 4:18 mark before his Oiler teammate Taylor Hall made it 2-0 inside the final minute of the first. The Czechs went about erasing that lead beginning with an Erat tally with 38 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

In the second period the crowd noise didn’t abate, and neither did the pace. The middle frame felt like watching a knock-out round game. KHL forward Martin Zatovic tied it up at 15:45 of the second, but Sean Couturier put Canada back in front under two minutes later.

In the third, a Tyler Seguin power play goal with 2:02 gone would make the score 4-2 and deflate any further Czech resistance. Sidney Crosby added a tap-in later in the period to make it 5-2. The teams would exchange late game goals.

The Canadians now top Group A and will take on second-placed Sweden on Wednesday, (2:15 pm ET). Canada now has 22 goals in the first three tournament games.

The rest: Sweden dumped Latvia 8-1 to remain competitive in Group A. Bruins forward Loui Eriksson had a hat trick. In a tighter contest, the Americans doubled up Russia 4-2 in a battle of Group B titans. SKA St. Petersburg winger Evgeni Dadonov had an assist and is tied with Taylor Hall and Matt Duchene, each with six points to lead all skaters. Finland shutout Norway 5-0 as the other evening game.

Sunday, May 3 – vs. Germany

Team Canada put up a 10-spot on Germany in an offence-laden second win of the tournament. Oiler Taylor Hall had a hat trick with goalie Martin Jones turning in the shutout.

Captain Sidney Crosby opened the onslaught at 8:02, which was 23 seconds before Hall potted his first of the game.  A pair of Cody Eakin goals closed the opening 20, with the Canadians in front 4-0.

It was a tame contest, with Team Canada getting a chance to test their even-strength combinations. With no penalties in the middle frame, Taylor Hall tallied his second of the game at 2:10 and then completed the hat trick with only 23 seconds left before the second intermission.

In all, 14 Canadians registered a point, including Matt Duchene’s four-point effort, (one goal and three assists). Canada’s next opponent is Jaromir Jagr and the Czech Republic, on Monday at 2:15 ET.

Friday, May 1 – vs. Lativia

It was a win propelled by the leadership as Canada beat Latvia 6-1 on Friday, with all three captains contributing goals.

Alternate captain Jason Spezza fired in two goals (including the game winner) and added a helper plus Dan Hamuis tallied in the second period wearing an “A”. Captain Sidney Crosby added the sixth Canadian goal with a penalty shot marker late in a dominant Canadian performance.

Played in Prague, it was a typical Canadian opener for the annual springtime tournament. The Latvians were out-matched, but resilient, while starter Edgars Masalskis was chased in the second for his back-up Ervins Mustukovs.

Next up for Canada is Germany on Sunday, May 3 at 10:15 am ET.