The World Cup of Hockey hasn’t officially begun. But that hasn’t stopped fans from buzzing already over what they saw during last night’s Team North America 4-0 shutout over Team Europe.
In what was only a tune up with a rematch between the two most intriguing teams coming Sunday in Quebec City, Avalanche star center Nathan MacKinnon scored North America’s final goal on a filthy penalty shot. Using his speed to get around Mark Streit and in on Jaroslav Halak, he was pulled down. It set up one of those ultra cool hockey moments. The penalty shot. Mono y Mono. MacKinnon gave Halak plenty of dekes and head movement and converted with a sick backhand top shelf.
Here’s the call from ESPN’s John Buccigross and ever popular NHL Network studio analyst Kevin Weekes:
Team North America could be a force to be reckoned with once the preliminary round starts next week. Featuring young stars MacKinnon along with captain Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Maple Leafs’ 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews, they should be the most fun team to watch. Every player is 23 or younger.
Even scarier, McDavid played with Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau, who scored one of the team’s goals. If they’re a line, watch out. The idea of having this young trio together is reason enough to tune in. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also sniped. MacKinnon also scored the team’s first with a roof job.
North America also includes young Pens’ netminder Matt Murray, who went the distance pitching the shutout. John Gibson was the back up.
Notes: J.T. Miller returned in the third after missing some time with an injury. Marian Hossa left the game with an undisclosed injury.