TORONTO — Team Canada has trailed for all of 89 seconds at the World Cup of Hockey.
Indeed, the Canadians have advanced to the semifinals without much resistance. They rolled over the Europeans 4-1 on Wednesday night, concluding an efficient preliminary round that saw them outscore the opposition 14-3. A single-elimination semifinal lies ahead Saturday.
Jonathan Toews scored twice and added an assist. He doesn’t think Canada has found its best just yet.
“We’ve shown it in moments, where we hem teams in their zone (and) they can’t get out,” Toews said. “If they do have the puck we have two guys all over it and we’re turning it over and we’re throwing it back their way. We want that pressure, four lines going all the time.”
Canada won Group A and will face North America or Russia in the first semifinal Saturday night, with Russia getting the spot with a win Thursday in the preliminary round finale against Finland. Europe will play Group A winner Sweden in the semifinals.
“I didn’t think either team probably had the emotion they’ve had,” Canadian coach Mike Babcock said. “Both teams knew they had advanced. You know, as much as I think our guys really tried to get the emotional level at a high level, we were casual with the puck. We made mistakes we don’t normally make, and saying that, we had the puck a lot, could have scored lots of goals. And their goalie was good.”
Sidney Crosby and Logan Couture also scored, and Corey Crawford made 19 saves in his World Cup debut.
“That was pretty special, I’ve waited a long time,” he said. “Watching as a kid, watching Olympics, watching world juniors. It’s a pretty special feeling to put that jersey on. Having friends and family and my parents here, it was a great feeling.”
Crawford gave up the only goal when Marian Hossa — normally his teammate with the Chicago Blackhawks — knuckled a puck past him from a sharp angle in the second period.
“I don’t know what I was trying to do there,” Crawford said. “I’ll probably hear about that the rest of the year.”
Jaroslav Halak stopped 42 shots for Europe.
“I thought Canada did an amazing job of getting in the lanes and taking away any opportunities we had,” Europe coach Ralph Krueger said. “But there’s a lot of growth in this game for us. We’re where we wanted to be at this point. We’re in the semifinal.”