After Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored on a breakaway to give Team Europe a 3-2 overtime win over the Czech Republic, the impact was surely felt by Team USA’s players as well. After just three days of tournament action, the Americans will be facing elimination Tuesday night.
With Europe earning its second win in the tournament, Team USA must beat tournament host and favorite Canada Tuesday to keep their tournament hopes alive. It would also be extremely helpful to them to do it in regulation, as regulation wins is part of the tie-breaking scenario. So if there is a silver lining to Team Europe winning in OT, it’s that.
Europe 3, Czech Rep. 2 (OT)
In the closest game of the tournament yet, Team Europe continued their surprise run at the World Cup. They absolutely out-played the Czechs, but ran into a goaltender that was on top of his game for most of the night. Detroit Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek had designs on stealing the game for the Czechs. He made 38 saves while under siege all game.
Europe struck first with a goal from Zdeno Chara after a net-front scramble left Mrazek out of position. The Czechs answered back with an absolute snipe from Jakub Voracek.
The third period was full of action as Mrazek made the save of the tournament to rob Roman Josi.
But less than a minute later, the Czech netminder couldn’t coral a Mats Zuccarello shot that bounced out of the goalies glove and into the net to make it 2-1.
The Czech Republic got back into the game thanks to some quick stick work by Arizona Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal, who chipped in a goal after the puck bounced off the back boards.
In overtime, both goalies looked sharp, but a great counter attack from Europe capped off with a nice pass from Zuccarello to Draisaitl, who had a free look on the breakaway and made the most of it.
Group A Scenarios
Here’s what you need to know about how Tuesday can impact the semifinal picture for Group A:
Both Europe and Canada would officially clinch a spot in the semis if Canada beats the United States in any fashion. In that scenario, Team Europe would have a chance to play Canada for first place in the group Wednesday. They’ll also have a day’s rest while Canada plays a back-to-back.
In the event that the U.S. beats Canada, the best the Americans can hope to finish is 2-1, also needing a win over the Czechs on Thursday. If Canada somehow lost to both the U.S. and Europe, they’d be out. If Europe ended up losing to Canada, all three teams will be at 2-1 in that scenario, which triggers the three-way tie-breaker procedures:
Oddly enough, if Team USA beats Canada in regulation tomorrow, they’d still have a shot at not only advancing, but winning the group, too. There are so many various hypotheticals that could still play out, but in simplest terms, Team USA has to win Tuesday to stay alive.
As for the Czech Republic, losing in overtime Monday keeps them alive, but they need a ton of help. They’d need Canada to lose both of its next two games and would also have to beat the U.S. to hope for at least a tie-breaker scenario. So they’re technically in it still, but need so much to go right, it’s hard to see this working out for them.
As for fans on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, the gravity of Tuesday night’s game only brings more hype. Team USA’s backs are against the wall and they have no choice but to throw everything they’ve got at the tournament’s most talented team and their biggest rival. If they can’t come out on top, their tournament comes to a quick, unceremonious end, followed by a mountain of criticism. It should make for a much more entertaining and dramatic contest.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / World Cup of Hockey: Europe tops Czech Republic in OT; USA on brink of elimination