Dany Heatley scored the game winner with only 47 seconds remaining as Canada dodged a bullet at the World Ice Hockey Championships by edging the US 5-4 on Tuesday.
With the win, defending champion Canada earned first place in preliminary round Group B standings with a perfect 3-0 record while the US (2-1) finished in second.
“We did a great job to battle back like that,” Heatley said. “We took a couple of penalties, made a couple of mistakes. We know we have got to get better and we will.”
It was the second goal of the game and sixth of the tournament for Heatley, who leads all scorers with 10 points in three games.
In other preliminary round games on Tuesday, Russia beat Denmark 4-1, the Czechs rolled over Italy 7-2 and Latvia blanked Slovenia 3-0.
Heatley’s game winner broke a 4-4 deadlock in front of a sold out crowd of 9,192 at the Halifax Metro Centre and came off a pass from linemate Rick Nash, who is also having a strong tournament.
Heatley positioned himself for the one-timer and while the pass from Nash wasn’t perfect, the 27-year-old Ottawa Senator managed to get just enough of it to send it over the glove hand of American goalie Craig Anderson.
Heatley became Canada’s all-time leading scorer in the worlds earlier in the tournament, surpassing current Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman.
Brent Burns, Jonathan Toews and Derek Roy also scored for Canada, who are hosting the event for the first time in the 100 years of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Los Angeles Kings teammates Patrick O’Sullivan and Dustin Brown scored for the US team. Jason Pominville and Zach Parise also had goals for the Americans, who are seeking their first medal at the Worlds since earning bronze in 2004.
Canada wore throwback jerseys Tuesday, replicas of the 1976 Canada Cup team which featured some of the country’s greatest players. Canada Cup team members Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and Bobby Clarke were on hand to watch the game against the USA and were featured in a ceremony between the first and second periods.
Despite the loss, the US took several positives from the game as they rallied to tie it 4-4 and outskated the heavily favored Canadians much of the game.
US forward Brown said this game was a confidence booster for his team.