Canada clinches quarter-final berth

The Canadian Press
Carol Schram

HERNING, Denmark–After having trouble scoring at 5-on-5, Connor McDavid and the Canadians proved to be deadly at 3-on-3.
McDavid scored 46 seconds into overtime, batting his own rebound out of the air past goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, as Canada edged Latvia 2-1 yesterday to clinch a quarter-final berth at the world hockey championship.
The combination of McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Aaron Ekblad dominated play at 3-on-3 in the overtime session as Canada got two much-needed points.
“Those guys are so deadly with the puck, especially with Connor’s speed,” said Canadian forward Ryan O’Reilly.
“The way he beats the guy up the wall and creates a scoring chance and ends the game, it’s definitely dangerous,” O’Reilly added.
“That was huge getting that goal.”
Anthony Beauvillier opened the scoring for Canada 2:51 into the first period, staying with the play to shovel in a loose puck after Gudlevskis failed to completely freeze a tip-in front of the net by Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
“I thought the play was dead, then I saw the puck behind his pads so I was just trying to find it,” Beauvillier said on his second goal of the tournament.
“It was probably one of the easiest goals I’ve scored in my career.”
Beauvillier skated on a line with Pageau and Mat Barzal as coach Bill Peters shuffled his units in an effort to spark more offence after a disappointing 5-1 loss to Finland on Saturday.
“I thought it was a mixed bag,” Peters said about the changes. “We’re still trying to find the right combinations.
“Tyson Jost went in there and played well–I thought that line [with Bo Horvat and Jordan Eberle] was good,” he noted.
“I thought the Barzal line probably had their best game of the tournament.
“I thought those two lines were dangerous for us on a consistent basis,” Peters added.
“Now we’ve got to get contributions from others throughout the lineup.”
After being outplayed and outshot 10-4 in the first period, the hard-working Latvians applied good pressure in the second.
Close-checking at the defensive end of the ice, Latvia also drew two penalties and fired nine shots on goal in a scoreless middle frame.
“They played us really hard,” said goalie Darcy Kuemper. “They worked their butts off and didn’t give up a whole lot.”
Kuemper was sharp through two periods in his first start since Canada’s tournament-opening 5-4 shootout loss to the U.S. on May 4, but was beaten 1:50 into the third on a Kristians Rubins point shot–Latvia’s 14th of the game.
“I just picked it up a little bit late,” Kuemper said. “[Rubins] shot it and I didn’t have good eyes on it.
“I saw it last second, just got a piece of it, and it snuck through.”
With yesterday’s win, Canada is guaranteed a top-four finish in Group ‘B’ and a quarter-final berth.