It didn’t take Florida Panthers 2020 first round pick Anton Lundell long to make an impact at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
Lundell roofed a shot from in close after taking a pass from Santeri Hatakka 3:35 into the first period as the favored Finns went on to defeat a game Germany, who got a goal and an assist from highly-touted Ottawa Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle, by a 5-3 count.
Lundell, who is serving as Finland’s captain, finished the game with four shots on goal and a +2 rating.
Florida’s seventh-rounder in 2020, Kasper Puutio also took part in the win. The 18-year-old defenseman registered five shots on goal and posted a +1 rating in his WJC debut.
Things didn’t go so well for 2019 first-rounder Spencer Knight, who was yanked with 7:45 left in the second period after surrendering four goals on 12 shots in Team USA’s 5-3 loss to Russia. Knight got the hook after clearing the puck up the boards to Ilya Safonov, who promptly put the gift into the back of the American net. The gaffe came just 1:07 after Vasiliy Ponomarev beat Knight glove side for his second goal of the game. The U.S. scored twice in the third period with Dustin Wolf between the pipes to close the gap before Yegor Chinakov’s empty-netter clinched it for the Russians.
The Americans will take on Austria tonight at 9:30 p.m. It will be interesting to see if they go back to Knight or if Wolf gets the chance to take over the number one job.
Slovakia beat Switzerland 1-0 in the other game on Thursday.
Florida’s Devon Levi, who surprisingly earned the nod as Canada’s starter, will make his WJC debut tonight against Germany. Emil Heineman could play for Sweden as they take on the Czech Republic in the afternoon game.
Sweden (Heineman) vs. Germany 2 p.m. (NHL Network)
Canada (Levi) vs. Germany 6 p.m. (NHL Network)
United States (Knight) vs. Austria 9:30 p.m. (NHL Network)