It wasn’t that he didn’t have the chances. He’s had plenty of them.
But the puck luck is real and it hadn’t been on Steven Stamkos’ side during the World Cup of Hockey. But the Lightning captain finally broke through and scored the eventual game-winning goal as Team Canada defeated Team Europe in a sleepy, borderline boring game Tuesday night in Toronto.
The victory in the best-of-three series means that Canada can win the tournament with a win on Thursday.
Stamkos’ goal happened thanks to Zdeno Chara, who coughed up the puck and well, see it for yourself.
Stamkos from Getzlaf [and Chara] pic.twitter.com/l7Fo4286iB— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 28, 2016
The goal extended Canada’s lead to 2-0. Brad Marchand scored first under three minutes into the game as he was coming out of the penalty box after serving a cross-checking penalty against Marian Hossa. Tomas Tatar cut Europe’s deficit around the halfway mark of the second period. In the third, Patrice Bergeron put the game away.
Canada got the goals when they needed it, but they were outshot 13-9 in the first. They’ll have some refining to do, as they look as commanding or dominating as in games past, as they should. Stamkos seemed to acknowledge that after the game.
Stamkos: "It wasn’t our best. I think we realize that. At this time of the tournament a win is a win." #WCH2016— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) September 28, 2016
It’s been due to Canada’s deep depth that they haven’t necessarily needed Stamkos to score. The top line of Marchand, Sidney Crosby and Bergeron came up big again as each player got two points. But it was Stamkos’ time to get one. He joked that he waited until the final to start scoring.
Stamkos on goal: “I knew it was a matter of time before one goes in. I want to say I was saving them for the end.”— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) September 28, 2016
The game as a whole felt anticlimactic after an exciting couple semifinal games. Photos of empty seats and a sparse crowd at the outdoor viewing party are only adding fuel for the critics of the tournament. It doesn’t help that one nation is playing a conglomerate of nations either. There’s absolutely no history to draw a sense of rivalry from. And tonight’s game didn’t help to establish any sort of animosity between the two teams. Or emotion. Or intensity.
But Drew Doughty did wake up the sleepy viewers though with his eye-opening hit on Frans Nielsen in the third.
Despite finding the back of the net, Stamkos only played 12:58 — Canada’s fourth lowest in ice time, only ahead of their so-called fourth line. He did see 55 seconds of power play time with Crosby, Bergeron, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. He was also credited with one hit, one giveaway and one takeaway.
Game 2 is at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday on ESPN2.