Marian Gaborik, Leon Draisaitl and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored, Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves and Team Europe upset the United States 3-0 on Saturday in a stunning opening game at the World Cup of Hockey.
Playing his first game since March 8 because of a groin injury, Halak was up to the task, especially in the third period.
Jonathan Quick allowed three goals on 17 shots but fell victim to blunders in front of him. A mistake by defenceman Ryan McDonagh allowed Europe to get a 2-on-1 rush for Gaborik’s goal, and a turnover by Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane set up a 2-on-0 for Draisaitl’s.
The U.S. outshot Europe 35-17, went 0 for 4 on the power play and had a goal disallowed.
The U.S. went into the first World Cup game in 12 years as the favourite against a European team made up of players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, France and Slovenia. European coach Ralph Krueger declared earlier in the day: “We’re going to be a competitive team here today, and we’re ready to look America in the eyes.”
That was clear from the drop of the puck.
It didn’t help that the U.S. kept giving Europe golden opportunities. McDonagh’s ill-advised pinch freed up Frans Nielsen and Gaborik for a 2-on-1, and Quick had little chance of stopping it at 4:19 of the first period.
After playing only 4:45 in the first, Kane tried to skate through two European players and had the gaffe of the game. Draisaitl picked it off, executed a perfect give-and-go with Nino Niederreiter that made it 2-0 Europe 4:02 into the second.
At 14:10 of the second it looked like the U.S. was on the board with a power-play goal off the helmet of Derek Stepan. But after video review, referee Kelly Sutherland announced that van Riemsdyk intentionally directed the puck in with his chest.
Europe dealt the final blow at 18:32 of the second when Bellemare deflected Jannik Hansen’s shot past Quick.
Notes: U.S. coach John Tortorella scratched defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, forward Kyle Palmieri and goaltender Cory Schneider. Ben Bishop served as Quick’s backup. … Forward Mikkel Boedker and defenceman Luca Sbisa were scratched for Europe.