It was once again an emotional game as the two rivals battled for bragging rights in North America.
The two teams battled a defensive first period almost to perfection as the two sides combined for just 9 shots – 5-4 in favor of Canada – in the opening frame.
The American’s had the first opportunity if the game when Dylan Strome was called for slashing Louis Belpedio just 1:34 into the game but couldn’t capitalize.
Canada’s best opportunity came off a Brendan Perlini shot. American goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic slid across his crease and while going down on his belly brought his blocker up and made a “blind save” in behind him with the back of his blocker. Perlini, thinking he had scored raised his arms in the air.
With 2:40 remaining in the period, Travis Konecny threw a check on Alex DeBrincat in front of the Canadian bench. DeBrincat responded with a spear to Konecny’s mid section and was assessed a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. Under IIHF rules, a spear that makes contact is an automatic major, while an attempted spear (that misses) is an automatic minor.
The Canadians could not capitalize in the first half of the powerplay and credit to the Americans who kept the Canadians mostly to the outside.
The second period opened up with the major to DeBrincat having 2:20 remaining and it was not to be for the Canadians – and it would cost them in the long run.
Canada opened the scoring at the 5:06 mark of the period. Julien Gauthier blocked a shot and had a two on one break with Rourke Chartier. Gauthier sent a pass over to Chartier who could not convert. Gauthier got the puck back and on one knee sent a perfect pass to the oncoming Matthew Barzal who made no mistake.
The Americans would tie it at 16:33 off of a faceoff. A Sonny Milano shot went off the end boards and came out the other side right to Colin White who tied the game at 1. The shots were also even with 10 shots each in the period.
In the third, the Americans would capitalize on the powerplay when Zach Werenski fired a perfectly places shot passed a screened Mason MacDonald at 7:22 of the period.
Just 2:13 later, Werenski took a slashing penalty (call it a make up call) and the Canadians made him pay when Strome fired a perfect shot of his own.
Belpedio fired the winner with 3:18 remaining. Belpedio’s shot went off Canadian defender Joe Hicketts’ stick and under MacDonald’s glove.
Auston Mathews would seal the deal as he knocked home a loose puck behind MacDonald.