Canada finishes first with a win over Belarus
HELSINKI – Ryan O’Reilly scored two goals and Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and assist to lead Canada to a 5-1 win over Belarus.
In all, five players had two points, the others being Corey Perry (1+1), Andrew Ladd, and Duncan Keith (two assists each). Keith leads Canada with eleven points in the tournament so far (1 +10).
The game was the last for both teams in the round robin as they head in different directions now. Canada finishes first in Group A and will play the fourth-place team in the quarter-finals. That team will be decided later this afternoon when Slovakia and France play in a decisive game, the winner finishing fourth and advancing to the playoffs, the loser going home in fifth spot.
“We’ve been knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last couple of years, but if we go out and do the things that we have to do, we’ll be okay,” Perry said.
Belarus finishes seventh in the group and awaits its raking to determine if it will have to play qualifying games for Sochi.
“We played pretty good the first three games, but if we want to improve Belarusian hockey we need to work with juniors, hockey schools, and I do my best to help there,” said Mikhail Grabovski.
Canada started off quickly, scoring just 2:16 into the game. Andrew Ladd and O’Reilly got the puck inside the Belarus blue line on a two-on-one situation, and Ladd’s perfect pass was nicely converted by O’Reilly.
The Canadians coasted most of the period, their superior speed and skills enough to maintain most of the puck possession. But the period turned at 14:25 when a harmless-looking play turned into a tying goal for Belarus. Andrei Kostitsyn outmuscled O’Reilly for the puck in the Canadian end, and whipped a pass across to the other side of the net to Yevgeni Kovyrshin. He put the puck in front where Sergei Kostitsyn made a nice deflection over the glove of Cam Ward. Canada may have had the better of play, but the score was 1-1.
Canada opened a three-goal cushion in the middle period but showed a power play that was weak and unimaginative. The team had a lengthy five-on-three and could do little, but late in the second penalty a Ryan Getzlaf point shot bounced off Corey Perry’s skate and in. Getzlaf then made it 3-1 at 12:46 on a scramble in front of Dmitri Milchakov.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the fourth goal while Canada enjoyed a five-minute power play created when Andrei Kostitsyn hammered Evander Kane into the boards from behind, earning a game misconduct as well. After Nugent-Hopkins scored, Nikolai Stasenko cross-checked him and tried to start a fight with John Tavares. With nothing to gain in the game, and the game now well out of hand, Belarus became undisciplined and ornery.
O’Reilly snapped home the final goal ni the third period, and towards the end two Canadians, Luke Schenn and Marc Methot, received five-minute majors and game misconducts for boarding.
“Mentally, these two last games were tough to get into,” Jordan Eberle noted, “but now it’s the quarter-finals and it’s a do-or-die situation. We have to be able to take to a new level.”