TORONTO — Team Europe started fast and strong against Canada, getting three shots on Carey Price and drawing a penalty in the first 21 seconds of Game 1 in the World Cup of Hockey finals.
“They skated right by us on the first shift,” Canadian coach Mike Babcock said.
The eight-nation team seemed to be the better squad on the ice for long stretches before losing to Canada 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Instead of skating off discouraged, Europe appears to have boosted its confidence with the relatively competitive game.
“There was quite a bit of time during the game that we were dictating the pace and dictating the game,” Slovenian forward Anze Kopitar said. “It certainly showed that we can play with them.”
Game 2 in the best-of-three series is Thursday night.
“We have a feeling in there that this is far from over,” said forward Fran Nielsen, who is from Denmark. “We know we can go out there and take a game. Take the next one and make this a one-game series.”
To win, Europe will likely have to figure out how to score on the power play.
Europe didn’t take advantage of its power play early in Game 1 and failed to make the most its second and last power play in the second period.
In five games, the Europeans are 0 for 15 with an extra skater.
“Definitely need to get our power play firing,” coach Ralph Krueger said.
Krueger’s team will also have to find a way to slow down Sidney Crosby’s line.
No one has been able to do it yet in the best-on-best tournament.
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored on goals set up by Crosby in Game 1 and the trio has combined for 22 points in the World Cup. Crosby, Marchand and Bergeron rank among the top three scorers in the tournament.
“Those guys are very good finding the little area in the open slot,” Europe defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “You’ve just got to try to keep them to the outside, try to stay inside of them and try your best.”
Europe, meanwhile, has been getting a scoring boost from Slovakia’s Tomas Tatar.
The Detroit Red Wings forward scored Tuesday night and has a team-high three goals, one more than the injured Marian Gaborik and Leon Draisaitl. Tatar scored twice in the semifinals, including the winner in overtime against Sweden on Sunday.
In addition to solving its problems on the power play and stopping Crosby and Co., Europe must cut down on mistakes in even-strength situations.
Shortly after failing to score on a power play, the Europeans turned the puck over and Bergeron carried it up the middle of the ice. He faded to the right and passed across the crease to set up Marchand’s fourth goal of the tournament 2:33 into the game.
Slovakia’s Zdeno Chara was careless with the puck later in the opening period and it was costly. Ryan Getzlaf snatched the puck from the 6-foot-9, 39-year-old defenseman near center ice along the boards and faked a shot at the top of the left circle, leading to a tap-in goal for Stamkos on the right side of the net.
“It’s so tough playing against them because you just can’t make any turnovers,” Nielsen said. “When you look at their team, it’s all All-Stars offensively. If they have one weakness on the forwards, except for Bergeron and (Jonathan) Toews maybe, it’s playing defense. We’ve got to make them play defense.”