World Junior Championship: Canada beats USA 3-2, wins group A (GIF)

Zachary Fucale was a difference-maker for Canada in goal, and was named Player of the Game. - Bruce Bennett

In a New Year's eve match up, Canada did enough to defeat Team USA and claim Group A.

Malmo, Sweden -- Team USA had never trailed at the World Junior Championships entering Tuesday's game. And for the first half of the game to decide Group A, it looked like the Americans might keep that streak alive.

But a strong push by the Canadians resulted in three unanswered goals, and Zachary Fucale and Team Canada held on to defeat Team USA, 3-2.

The first period went scoreless, with the USA controlling the possession, and outshooting Canada 13-6. While Jack Eichel was strong, and the USA generated some good chances, Fucale was a rock in net for Canada. On a USA power play, Fucale made a strong glove save on Riley Barber, and the USA power play that has been strong all tournament was stymied all game.

Barber broke through for the game's first goal in the second period. With the teams skating 4-on-4 the USA worked the puck down low, and Barber was able to sneak a wrap-around past Fucale to give Team USA the lead right as Canada was going on the power play.

Team USA would lead for the majority of the second period, until Nic Petan knotted the score at 1 at the 12:19 mark. Canada made a strong play off the rush, and Petan was able to slam the puck past Gillies and send the team's into the intermission even on the scoreboard.

Canada showed off its speed in the final frame, and was able to put pressure on the USA's defense by forcing the effort. Canada put Team USA behind early in the final frame when Connor McDavid knocked home a loose puck from a scramble in front. It marked the first time in the entire World Juniors tournament Team USA had trailed.

Under three minutes later, the Canadians would double their lead. An undisciplined USA Team, which took five penalties on the day, was bit by the Team Canada power play. After not effectively clearing their own zone, Derrick Pouliot sent a pass down to Jonathan Drouin, who dangled and dragged around a defenseman before sending a pass in front for a tap-in goal for Curtis Lazar.

With the score 3-1, Team USA looked to mount a late comeback. The Americans thought they had cut the deficit to a goal midway through the frame off a bad-angle Eichel shot, but the puck never crossed the line.

The play of the game and what sealed Canada's win came from Fucale. With Canada still leading by two, Connor Carrick got a breakaway opportunity after a Canadian defender fell down.

Fucalerobscarrickwjc_medium

Team USA was able to cut it to a one goal game minutes later, as Stefan Matteau threw the puck on net, and with Andrew Copp applying pressure down low, a Canadian defender knocked the puck into his own net. Team USA would pull Jon Gillies late for an extra attacker, but Canada leaned on Fucale and was able to squeak out a 3-2 victory.

Both the USA and Canada will advance out of group A, finishing in the top two spots. The United States will take on Russia (the third place team of group B) on Thursday, and Canada will match up with Finland.

Stick tap to @CJZero for the GIF

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