Canada advances to semifinals with win over Jokerit
Will play Switzerland's HC Geneve-Servette
Jeff Tambellini says Canada's Spengler Cup team owes a lot of its success to head coach Guy Boucher's preparation and planning.
Tambellini turned a neutral-zone turnover into the winning goal Monday as Canada advanced to the Spengler Cup semifinals with a 5-2 win over Jokerit.
The winner was Canada's only even-strength goal of the game. In what was an impressive display of special-team prowess, Canada had two power-play goals, two short-handed goals and killed off all 10 of Jokerit's power-play chances.
Those results are even more laudable given that Canada had its first practice less than a week ago while other teams at the tournament have been playing together for months.
Boucher impressive behind the bench
"We are so fortunate to have Guy and his staff, because they have done so much work on every game," Tambellini said after Monday's game. "You talk to any of our guys and we've never been so prepared to play a hockey game, especially for a team just coming together in a couple of days. The detail in his plan is world-class."
Boucher gave credit to the players for buying into the game plan.
"Our players were able to pay the price on every penalty kill," he said. "You can have the best players in the world, but if the players don't execute and don't pay the price then it ain't going to work."
Tambellini fired the puck over the shoulder of Jokerit goaltender Riku Helenius at 18:33 of the second period to give Canada its first lead of the game at 3-2.
It came as Jokerit was applying pressure, trying to regain momentum after watching an early two-goal lead slip away.
"It was kind of a quick regroup," Tambellini said. "They turned it over right in the middle of the ice, and it went to Bud Holloway. I was screaming at him, and instead of chipping it ahead he made a great play right through their defenceman.
"I was lucky I had a lot of speed coming into their zone. I probably shot it from a little further out than most people would expect but I was set up for a shot that I liked."
The game didn't go Canada's way at the start, with their Finland-based opponents opening up a two-goal lead after four minutes.
Not happy with their start
"We didn't like our start," Boucher said. "Turnovers, bad changes where guys came off when the other team was transitioning. We didn't play deep in the offensive zone and we took penalties."
Canada tied it on power-play goals from Micki DuPont and Alexandre Giroux.
After Tambellini's goal, Canada put the game away with third-period short-handed goals from Brett McLean and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Drew MacIntyre stopped 25 shots for Canada, which killed off 10 Jokerit power plays and scored on two of its chances with the man advantage.
Linus Omark had a goal and an assist for Helsinki-based Jokerit. Steve Moses also scored while Helenius made 13 saves.
Look to put last year behind them
Canada will play Switzerland's HC Geneve-Servette, the tournament's defending champion, in Tuesday's semifinal. Geneve-Servette defeated Canada in last year's semifinal round en route to its first Spengler Cup title.
Eight players on Canada's 2014 roster were on the team that lost in last year's semifinal.
"You don't forget that stuff, especially when you lose out on a chance to play for a title," Tambellini said. "I'm sure it's in the back of their minds and they're very excited to have this matchup."
Boucher said what happened last year should stay in the past.
"I think that's more for the public," he said. "That's the fun of it, you know, the soap opera of hockey where you follow teams and the past and the stats and all that. Really I think tomorrow is about tomorrow. We're going to have to isolate tomorrow's game and not think of the final, not think of the past, not even think of tonight."