TORONTO — Canada was not the best team on the ice until it mattered.
Down a goal with 3 minutes left, the high-powered Canadians kicked it up a notch and Team Europe simply couldn’t stop them.
Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal with 43.1 seconds left after Patrice Bergeron tied it with 2:53 to go on a power play, lifting Canada to a 2-1 victory and the World Cup of Hockey title Thursday night.
“You can say anything you want about the game tonight, but we delivered,” Canada coach Mike Babcock said.
Sidney Crosby’s line with the Boston Bruins pair of Marchand and Bergeron dominated in the final minutes as the trio did throughout the two-week tournament.
“They’re addicted to winning and they just make it happen,” Babcock said.
The Canadians won the best-of-three finals 2-0.
They’ve won 16 straight games, including Olympic gold medals at the Sochi and Vancouver Games, since losing to the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics.
“It’s pretty special,” Crosby said. “It’s not easy to do and for a good chunk of us, a lot of us were there in Russia.”
Europe seemed as if it had a chance to score a go-ahead goal late when Drew Doughty was called for high-sticking with just under 2 minutes left, but Canada was the team that took advantage when Marchand got the puck into open space and beat Jaroslav Halak with a shot from the slot to win the first World Cup since 2004.
“It’s just crazy the way everything worked out,” said Crosby, selected the MVP of the tournament after scoring three goals and finishing with a World Cup-high 10 points. “When you get a penalty that late in the game, you’re just trying to force overtime.”
After Crosby got his latest personal reward, he was presented with a silver World Cup of Hockey trophy and skated with it around the ice just months after hosting the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career.
He set up the tying goal, passing the puck off the boards to Brent Burns, whose shot just inside the blue line was redirected by Bergeron’s raised stick.
“In the biggest moments, he turns it up,” Babcock said.
Carey Price made 32 saves for the Canadians, who started slow before ending the tournament with a furious rally that fired up a once-quiet crowd.
“It’s a tough loss because we were able to push them all the way to the limits,” Chara said.
In front of an unenthusiastic crowd and a lot of empty seats in the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canadians started flat and the Europeans made them pay for their apparent apathy.
Unlike the last two times Canada trailed briefly to the U.S. and Russia, it could not come back against Europe quickly.
It looked as if it wasn’t going to be Canada’s night when John Tavares had a wide-open net to shoot into, but hit the right post from the bottom of the right circle. Earlier in the same shift, the New York Islanders forward missed the net on a one-timer opportunity.
Canada averaged 4.4 goals over the first five games of the tournament, giving Price plenty of support. It didn’t score as much in the final game of the tournament, but two goals were enough to win thanks to Price.
Europe outshot the Canadians 12-8 after the first period and 27-21 after the second before they closed well enough to finish with one more shot.
Canada had a man advantage again early in the third period, but only got one shot on Halak, a Slovak and Islanders standout, on the possibly pivotal power play.
Crosby had a chance to score with 7-plus minutes left, but Halak kicked the shot away with his right skate.
In the end, Halak could not keep the puck out of his net twice.
“The way it turned out at the end is very painful,” Europe coach Ralph Krueger said. “But you need to open eye to big picture and the journey. How we played was amazing. They played their hearts out. … We beat the odds and we turned this into a hell of final, which nobody expected.”