Canadian goalie Evan Fitzpatrick showed why he was NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American goalie, making 38 saves for Team Canada to lead the Canadians to a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic.
The Canadians built an early 3-0 leads, thanks to two late-first period goals and one early in the second. Two of the goals came thanks to Brett Howden, who was added to the Canadian roster early Saturday after his WHL season ended.
After that, Fitzpatrick took over. He made 22 of his 38 saves in the second period to keep the Czechs off the board. His shutout would be broken up midway through the third period on a rebound power play goal, but the Czechs could get no closer, despite having 48 seconds of 5-on-3 man advantage later in the third.
Canada stays undefeated and atop Group B. The Czech Republic has one point through two games and is in fourth place in Group B
Notes and Thoughts:
-If there was a game-changing moment, it came late in the first period. Czech Republic had played a pretty good first period, holding Canada scoreless most of the period. The Canadians struck first to take a 1-0 lead, and if the Czechs could have gotten to the locker room only down one, they would have been in decent shape. Instead, they take a penalty in the final two minutes of the period and Canada converts on the power play to go up 2-0 after one period. The Czech Republic controlled the game after that, but Fitzpatrick was too good and it was too big of a deficit to overcome.
-A big part of the reason the Czechs weren't able to come back is that their power play just wasn't very good. They had a lot of opportunities, including a golden one when Canada went down two men on consecutive too many men calls, but they only converted once all game, and many of their power plays looked terrible. There's some good players on this Czech team, but they lack a high-end playmaker in those situations.
-Canadian forward Maxime Comtois blocked a shot late and did not return. Comtois isn't a big contributor on this team, he's the 10th of 11 forwards, but if Canada loses him, they're down to just 10 forwards.
17:41 Brett Howden from Mason Shaw and Dante Fabbro 1-0 Canada
Fabbro fired a pass from the right dot across the slot to an open Howden. Howden collected the pass, then took a low wrist shot that snuck through the goalie.
18:58 David Quenneville from Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost (power play) 2-0 Canada
Fabbro passed the puck from the point to Quenneville at the top of the left circle. Quenneville faked a slap shot then side-stepped a shot blocker to fire a low wrist shot that beat the Czech goalie.
5:17 Brett Howden from Mason Shaw 3-0 Canada
Shaw took a big slap shot from the left point on a rush. The Czech goalie kicked it out, but Howden was there for the rebound in the slot which he put back into the night.
2:35 Filip Zadina from Libor Hajek (power play) 3-1 Canada
Hajek took a shot into traffic from the point. It got through and Fitzpatrick made the first stop, but Zadina corralled the rebound, stickhandled around a Canadian defender and put a backhand into the net.