Huberdeau Seals Smothering 4-1 Win For Team Canada

Florida's top prospect ices the game with an empty net goal as Canada heads straight to the semifinals.

Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau (In OHL garb) scored an empty net goal and set up an earlier power play tally by Mark Scheifele as Team Canada dominated Team Russia 4-1 at the 2013 World Junior Championship on Monday. In addition to the two points, Huberdeau finished with a +1 rating and fired two shots on goal.

Huberdeau's assist came on a five minute power play during the first period. He fired a hard shot from the slot that was denied by goaltender Andrei Makarov. The rebound came to Scheifele who gathered up the puck and shoveled it into the Russian cage to give Canada a 2-0 lead. Huberdeau clinched the victory by lifting a long shot down the ice that bounced into the empty Russian goal.

Huberdeau played on a line with Ryan Strome and Ty Rattie when the teams were at even strength. He rejoined Scheifele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when Canada was on the power play. Huberdeau now has seven points in four games for Team Canada.

Yaroslav Kosov played on Russia's third line again. He finished with one shot on goal and -1 rating.

Team Russia had no answer for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who set up three of the Canadian goals. The Russians were also dominated five on five by the Canadian third line of Boone Jenner, Phillip Danault and Brett Ritchie. The line didn't score but kept the Russians on their heels every time they were on the ice, setting the tone for much of the game.

Click here for a detailed recap of the game from the official 2013 World Junior Championship site.

Some random observations:

  • Jonathan Huberdeau played a real gritty game and ended up being rewarded for it with the empty-netter. I still would like to see more of a shoot first mentality from him. With the line change he was around the goal a little more often than he was when on the top line the first three games.
  • Yaroslavl Kosov was solid. He rotated between doing good things to being invisible. Not really his fault though, Canada absolutely dominated this one. Only Mark Scheifele's ghastly turnover allowed Russia to score. Kosov did look pretty good killing penalties.
  • Nail Yakupov got loose a couple times in the first period but other than that Canada's defense was top notch, holding the home team to just 22 shots with only 4 coming in the third period.
  • Time to eat some crow, I called out Dougie Hamilton after the last game but today he really turned it around. He cleaned up his play on the point and scored the game's first goal on a titanic blast. He was one of Canada's best defensemen and finished with six shots on goal
  • Canada finally got it's penalty problems under control. They were only called for two minors during the game. Nathan MacKinnon was the guilty party both times.
  • Team Canada has proved it is the best team in Group B. I can't see them losing a potential rematch to Russia or the US but I guess anything can happen. Defending champs Sweden may have the best shot at keeping Canada from the gold.
  • Canada will play the winner of the USA - Czech Republic quarterfinal.
  • Other games today - Group A: Czech Republic 4, Switzerland 3 (OT) / Sweden 7, Latvia 4 Group B: USA 9, Slovakia 3
  • Panther defense prospect Rasmus Bengtsson suited up for Team Sweden today and finished with an even rating and no shots on goal.