May 6, 2011

Conklin strong but U.S. loses shootout to Canada

Ty Conklin (photo: Getty)

KOSICE, Slovakia – Former New Hampshire standout Ty Conklin made 48 saves, however, the U.S. Men's National Team fell to Canada, 4-3, in a shootout Friday in the first qualification-round game for both teams at the IIHF World Men's Championship.

The U.S. picked up a point in the standings and now owns a 2-0-1-1 record.

"Our goaltending was tremendous and gave us a chance to win the hockey game," said Scott Gordon (Easton, Mass.), head coach of Team USA. "Obviously it's disappointing not to win. We've got to refocus and be ready for a tough opponent in France tomorrow."

After a scoreless first period, Mike Komisarek put Team USA on the board 4:13 into the second period. Conklin cleared the puck to Craig Smith, who skated through the neutral zone and connected with Derek Stepan at the blue line near the left side boards. Stepan then sent a long cross-ice pass to Komisarek, who fired a shot through traffic that trickled in.

After Canada tied the game just over three minutes later, the U.S. responded with 6:13 left in the middle frame to regain a one-goal lead. Yan Stastny caused a turnover in the U.S. zone and quickly pushed the puck to former Boston Bruins forward Blake Wheeler, who hit Jack Johnson just seconds after coming out of the penalty box. Johnson flew into the offensive zone on a breakaway, moved the puck from his forehand and backhanded a shot in.

Down 3-2, Team USA scored a power-play goal of its own 1:17 past the midway point of the third period that eventually sent the game to overtime. Wheeler and Stepan connected for a give-and-go play down low that ended with Wheeler sending a feed from the right goal line to Stepan in the slot.

Following a scoreless five-minute 4-on-4 overtime period, the game went to game-winning shots. Johnson and Wheeler could not find a way to score, while Jordan Eberle and Rick Nash each scored to lift Canada to the 4-3 victory.

Team USA will next face Saturday at 2:15 p.m. EDT in its second qualification-round game.