Connor McDavid’s first goal of the tournament, at 11:24 of the opening period, held up as the game winner. Cam Talbot made 16 saves for the shutout victory.
With eight seconds remaining and the Finns’ goalie pulled, Ryan O’Reilly, the Sabres’ ace faceoff man, was sent to take a defensive zone draw. He battled for possession until teammate Brad Marchand scooped up the puck and sent it up ice to Matt Duchene, who scored an empty netter with a second left on the clock. Players jumped onto the ice to celebrate only to have to clean up the ice and drop the puck at center ice before officials could put the game in the books.
“We got to celebrate twice in the end,” said a pumped up McDavid.
O’Reilly, who was also a part of the 2015 gold medal team, logged three shots in 17:24 of ice time. He finished the tournament with eight points (2G, 6A) in 10 games, playing the same two-way role for Canada as he does for Buffalo.
Fellow Sabre Sam Reinhart, a first-timer at the World Championship, played 5:42 of ice time. He notched four assists in the tournament, including one in the semifinal against Team USA on Saturday.
With the win, two Canadians made history. Captain Corey Perry becomes the 27th member of the Triple Gold Club and McDavid becomes the youngest player in history to win the U18 gold, U20 gold, and World Championship gold. Tournament MVP was awarded to Patrik Laine. He’s expected to be among the top three draft selections at the NHL Entry Draft this summer.
Earlier in the day, Team USA fell to Russia 7-2 in the Bronze Medal Game. Host Russia grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back.
Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, named Saturday as one of Team USA’s top three players, finished with one shot and a minus-3 rating in 18:30 of ice time against the Russians. Hudson Fasching played 15:20, logging an even rating and one shot on goal.
The Americans missed a chance to become the first nation ever to win back-to-back bronze medals by beating host countries. In last year’s bronze game, the U.S. earned a 3-0 shutout over a Czech team with tournament MVP Jaromir Jagr in Prague. The last time the U.S. medalled at consecutive Worlds was in 1949 (bronze) and 1950 (silver).
Still, overall, the U.S. can take pride in salvaging a fourth-place finish. Coach John Hynes’ team exceeded expectations by making it this far after losses to Canada, Finland, Germany and Slovakia in group play. In the near future, the Americans could well find themselves in the final, thanks to USA Hockey’s excellent development programs.