North America young guns shut out Europe in World Cup exhibition
Russia edges Czech Republic, Finland needs OT to top Sweden
Team North America scored three goals in a 4:43 span of the second period and Matt Murray made 23 saves in a 4-0 victory over Team Europe before a full house at the 18,005-seat Centre Videotron in Quebec City on Thursday night in a pre-tournament game for the World Cup of Hockey.
Nathan MacKinnon, with two goals including one on a penalty shot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Johnny Gaudreau scored as the youthful North Americans used their speed to find openings against an at-times flat-looking European defence.
"Speed and hockey sense were on display tonight," said Connor McDavid, the 19-year-old Edmonton Oilers phenom who was named North America captain before the game.
Shots were 23-21 in favour of Europe.
North America, made up of players under 24 from Canada and the U.S., is to face Europe again Sunday night in Montreal.
Luca Sbisa was serving a tripping penalty when MacKinnon took the rebound of an Aaron Ekblad point shot off the end boards and beat Jaroslav Halak at the side of the net at 3:52 of the second frame.
Nugent-Hopkins lost and recovered the puck twice to score on a solo effort at 6:22 and Gaudreau finished a two-man rush with Brandon Saad at 8:34.
"He's an electrifying player," Austin Matthews said of MacKinnon. "His skating and puckhandling are unbelievable, some of the best I've ever seen.
"It was easy to play with him and Nugent-Hopkins, who is a smart, 200-foot player who can make plays."
Centre Jack Eichel, who picked up an assist on Gaudreau's goal, was also impressed.
"We're all a little surprised at how good everyone is," he said. "People make plays you're not expecting."
Russia 4, Czech Republic 3
Russia held off the Czech Republic 4-3 in their first warmup for the World Cup of Hockey on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Forward Artemi Panarin got the Russians going late in the first period to tie the score after Czech defenceman Michal Kempny put in the opening goal.
Forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Nikita Kucherov scored second-period goals for a 3-1 Russian lead.
Centre Martin Hanzal pulled one back for the Czechs on a power play 6:48 in the third, and Evgeny Dadonov restored a two-goal advantage two minutes later.
Czech captain Tomas Plekanec cut it to one again with 2:47 left.
The two meet again in another warmup on Saturday ahead of the tournament that opens in Toronto on Sept 17.
Finland 3, Sweden 2 OT
Defenceman Olli Maatta scored in overtime to lift Finland over Sweden 3-2 in their first warmup match for the World Cup of Hockey on Thursday in Helsinki, Finland.
Maatta wristed a shot past goalkeeper Jhonas Enroth with just 42 seconds remaining.
Forward Aleksander Barkov broke the scoreless tie for Finland with 5:20 remaining in the middle period on a power play.
Loui Eriksson, who played in the line with his Vancouver clubmates Daniel and Henrik Sedin, needed just 50 seconds more to tie the game.
Sweden went up 2-1 through Carl Soderberg midway through the final period, and Mikael Granlund's goal forced overtime with 4:59 left.
The Scandinavian rivals meet again on Saturday in another warmup for the tournament which starts on Sept. 17 in Toronto.
with files from The Associated Press