PARIS — Winger Patrick Hager scored a late winning goal on his home ice as Germany stunned the United States with a 2-1 win on the opening day of the ice hockey world championships on Friday.
Three minutes after the Americans had equalized through defenseman Connor Murphy, the Germans scored a scrappy second on a power-play with six minutes remaining. Left winger Hager got the slightest touch to Yannic Seidenberg’s slapshot through traffic and goaltender Jimmy Howard was beaten from close range.
“We had good energy coming into the game and we had to channel that in the right way,” Hager said. “We worked hard, and we worked as a team.”
At the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, where Hager plays his club hockey for DEL team Koelner Haie, more than 18,000 fans watched the Germans go 1-0 ahead 11 minutes into the first period through Arizona Coyotes right winger Tobias Rieder. He showed good composure to finish from close range after a speculative shot from the right was poorly dealt with by Howard, who allowed the puck to cannon off his pad.
“It was the first game of the tournament, the crowd was crazy and that definitely helped,” German center Brooks Macek said. “I think you could see that in our game, we were skating, blocking shots, we were doing the right things.”
Greiss made 42 saves, including a point-blank pad save from Johnny Gaudreau late in the first period, after the Calgary Flames forward had bamboozled the defense with a super-slick spin and shot on the run. Gaudreau missed a one-on-one right at the start, and was frustrated by Greiss all night.
Greiss made more fine saves until Murphy — Rieder’s NHL teammate at Arizona — equalized with nine minutes remaining in the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
The U.S. thought it was 2-1 up just moments later, but Islanders forward Anders Lee‘s shot was somehow scooped right off the line by off-balance defenseman Frank Hordler.
Lee was quick to pay tribute to his club teammate Greiss.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game; it always is when Greiss is in the net,” Lee said. “I’ve seen what he can do all season and tonight he played an extremely good game.”
The Germans are back in Group A action Saturday night against Sweden, while the Americans face Denmark on Sunday.
The tournament’s matches are split between Paris and Cologne.
In Group B action in Paris, 26-time world champion Canada opened with a 4-1 victory against 2010 winners Czech Republic.
The first period was even enough, with 10 shots each, but the Canadians looked sharper and scored right at the start of the second period when defenseman Mike Matheson’s slap shot went through traffic, and screened goalie Petr Mrazek could only get his left glove to it late.
Lukas Radil pulled a goal back with about seven minutes left, but there was to be no late comeback as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie — who had assisted on the first goal — and Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner sealed the win.
About 10 minutes into the first period, the Czech Republic’s Radko Gudas was jawing at Nathan MacKinnon when Philadelphia Flyers teammate Claude Giroux — and MacKinnon’s teammate on Canada — was skating by. Without looking away from MacKinnon, Gudas jabbed his right hand to the side and clocked Giroux, knocking him to the ice.
Later, while Gudas was doing a postgame interview, Giroux bumped him as he passed behind.
Canada needs one more title to equal Russia’s record of 27 — 22 of those achieved as the former Soviet Union.
The U.S. won the last of its two titles way back in 1960 but took bronze two years ago.
The Czechs face Belarus on Saturday, while Canada takes on Slovenia on Sunday.
The match finished 1-1 after overtime, sending the match to penalty shots.
Lindholm was first up for Sweden but shot wide. After the next two skaters also missed, left-winger Panarin scored.
Nine-time champion Sweden had led through Carolina Hurricanes center Elias Lindholm‘s first-period goal before right winger Sergei Andronov leveled for Russia early in the third.
Also, last year’s silver medalist Finland won 3-2 against Belarus in Paris.
Slovakia, Latvia and Italy are also in Group A. Switzerland and Norway complete Group B.
The top four from each group advance to the quarterfinals, with the first-placed team playing the team in fourth in the other.