Moscow – Connor McDavid’s first goal of the world hockey championship proved to be golden. The defence and goaltending took care of the rest.
McDavid’s goal in the first period stood as the winner, backing a 16-save shutout from Cam Talbot as Canada successfully defended its world championship title with a 2-0 win over Finland in the tournament final on Sunday.
“We didn’t really feed into their transition and didn’t really give them any chance to get anything going off the rush or the end zone,” McDavid said. “Anything that we did give up, (Talbot) was amazing.”
The 19-year-old Oilers centre, who became the youngest player ever to win gold at the world under-18 tournament, world junior championship and world championship, had eight assists in the first nine games of the tournament, but was one of just two Canadian forwards not to have recorded a goal coming into the gold-medal game.
McDavid ended his drought at the 11:24 mark of the first period, driving to the net and deking out sprawling Finnish netminder Mikko Koskinen.
Matt Duchene added an empty-net goal with one second left on the clock to seal the win.
Talbot’s shutout was his tournament-leading fourth.
“I think we did a good job defensively as a group,” said coach Bill Peters. “Our goaltenders were outstanding each and every night. I think the team in front of (Talbot) was better tonight than the team in front of him versus Finland in the round-robin play (when Canada lost its only game, 4-0).”
The Canadians registered the first seven shots of the game and made adjustments based on what they’d seen from Finland in the preliminary round.
“We used our speed more, we came up with numbers, we made sure we got it deep and we played them in the O zone,” said Duchene. “You look at the shots (33-16 for Canada). I don’t know what they had but we doubled them up on shots. Their goalie was good again. They kept us to the outside.
“You get that one (goal) early and make them play from behind, it’s a different game.”
In a hard-hitting second period, Canada outshot the Finns 13-4. The best Finnish chances came with Mark Scheifele serving a slashing penalty late in the period, when Talbot stopped Jarno Koskiranta on the doorstep, then denied Patrick Laine as he shot the puck while streaking down the right wing.
Canada continued its aggressive approach in the third, outshooting the Finns 9-5 as the clock ticked down.
“It was tough,” said Finnish forward Jussi Jokinen. “They played really good team defence and kind of used our keys, what we’ve been able to do the whole tournament, kind of shut the other teams down. We weren’t able to create much, and they deserve all the credit tonight.”
Mikko Koskinen made 31 saves for the Finns.
Finland came into the final undefeated with a 9-0 record and had a chance to become the first country to win the world under-18 championship, world junior championship and world championship in the same year. They fell one game short, but draft-eligible rising star Laine was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message to the team after the win: “Congratulations to our Canadian men’s hockey team on winning gold at the #IIHFWorlds. Back-to-back champions!”
Canadian captain Corey Perry became the 27th player to join the esteemed Triple Gold Club, adding a world championship gold medal to his two Olympic golds from 2010 and 2014 and his 2007 Stanley Cup. Perry also won gold at the 2005 world junior championship.
Perry joined an elite group of Canadian hockey players that includes Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Eric Staal, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Sakic and Rob Blake.
In the bronze-medal game earlier on Sunday, Russia got three points each from Sergei Mozyakin, Artemi Panarin and Pavel Datsyuk in a 7-2 rout of the United States.
Panarin said Russia had played with more freedom after a weight of expectation was lifted following its semi-final defeat to Finland on Saturday.
“I think we just relaxed today,” said Panarin, a Calder Trophy finalist. “Until now … the pressure was serious.”
The U.S. led 30-29 in shots, but Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky produced some impressive saves to protect the lead.
Frank Vatrano scored both goals for the U.S.
“This one stings. Obviously, you don’t like to go out on a losing note,” forward Nick Foligno said. “They just played off their emotion and their power and we didn’t really have an answer.”
By Carol Schram
The Canadian Press