McDavid, Lazar lead Canada past tough German squad
(17) Connor McDavid (F) carries the puck near Germany’s goaltender (30) Kevin Reich in the 1st period of the game between Team Canada and Team Germany during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on December 27, 2014 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC. (JOHANY JUTRAS/QMI AGENCY)
When roommates Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar returned to their hotel room on Friday night, little was said.
“We didn’t say a word to each other and just went to bed,” Lazar said late Saturday night.
McDavid had registered a team-high six shots on goal against Slovakia but did not have a point in an 8-0 Canada win.
Following Canada’s second game of the 2015 world junior, the 17-year-old McDavid might have been a bit chattier as he and Lazar settled in for the night.
McDavid had a goal and two assists, all on power plays, as Canada beat a determined Germany team 4-0 at the Bell Centre.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of difference other than the puck was going in,” McDavid, soft-spoken but a bit surly, said. “That’s about it. I know you guys probably thought I played terrible (on Friday) but in reality I had my fair chances and couldn’t cash (in on them).
“It’s nice (to score) but it doesn’t really matter how you are doing. It’s all about the team.”
A fine sentiment, but as the tournament gets to be more of a grind — which could happen against a well-structured Finland team, one that is looking for its first win, on Monday night — the more often McDavid marks up the scoresheet, the better chance Canada has to win.
Against Germany, it was not only about McDavid’s output. Nic Petan had three assists, giving him six points in two games. Lazar, Canada’s captain, was the recipient of a great pass from McDavid and scored in the first period, giving Canada a 2-0 lead, after he did not have a shot on goal against Slovakia.
Max Domi again was effective in all areas, leading Canada with five shots on goal and scoring the lone goal at even-strength, one that came in the third period and gave Canada some breathing room. Defenceman Madison Bowey scored on a power play late in the game.
Before a crowd of 12,733 — well below capacity — Canada fired 31 shots at German goalie Kevin Reich, while Eric Comrie had to make 17 saves for the shutout. Comrie was not tested a bunch, but was sharp to stop Marc Michaelis on a breakaway in the second period with Canada leading 2-0.
It’s the third time Canada has started the world junior with back-to-back shutouts, something it accomplished in 2010 and 2008. Canada has not had three shutouts to begin the tournament.
With McDavid, it’s safe to say he is all the way back in his recovery from a broken bone in his right hand suffered in a fight in a game with the Erie Otters on Nov. 11.
“You have to be patient with a guy like that,” Canada head coach Benoit Groulx said.
“He is too talented. You know at a certain point he is going to find a way to make a difference and right off the bat on the power play, he got that goal and that gave him confidence. There is a lot of pressure on these young guys. Sometimes they are thinking too much. He was out for 4-5 weeks and he is not used to going a few games without points.”
When McDavid scored, he smacked the glass in celebration. Of course, that was noticed.
“That’s a little in-depth, to be talking about the celebration,” McDavid said. “It was just kind of in the moment. It’s fun to celebrate with the fans, I guess, and there were some fans over there, so whatever.”
Canada would have run away with the game had Domi and Jake Virtanen scored on breakaways. Lawson Crouse nearly gave Canada a 3-0 lead in the final second of the first period, but German defenceman Patrick Kurz swiped the puck away before it went across the goal line.
Defensively, Canada had a bit of a letdown in the second period when it was outshot 10-6. But the Canadians began to skate again in the third, limiting the Germans to three shots on goal.
“We lost to a better team,” said Germany coach Pat Cortina, a native of Montreal. “Difficult game for my players, but nonetheless what we expected.”
‘A DREAM COME TRUE’
Fitting for Eric Comrie that Josh Morrissey handed him the puck when the final buzzer went on Saturday night.
“He was my roommate in St. John’s (of the American Hockey League) for two months (when their respective junior seasons ended last spring) and we have a close bond,” Comrie said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, a dream come true.”
Comrie and Morrissey both have the potential to make an impact for the Winnipeg Jets one day, but for now, it’s all about the world junior. Comrie got the puck after making 17 saves to earn a shutout in Canada’s 4-0 victory against Germany at the Bell Centre.
Did he see his outing as a job interview to be the starting goalie in Canada’s next game, against Finland on Monday?
“No, not at all,” Comrie said with a big smile. “I am going out there and having fun, playing in the moment. If you think of it as a job interview, it’s not going to go so well.”
So will it be Zach Fucale, who had to make just 12 saves in an 8-0 win against Slovakia, or Comrie in net versus the Finns?
“It’s going to be a tough decision,” Canada head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Both of them have been very good. We want to sleep on it.”
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