Belpedio, Matthews lead United States past Canada 4-2 at world juniors

Canada's Matt Barzal celebrates after scoring against the United States during second period preliminary hockey action at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

HELSINKI - Louis Belpedio and Auston Matthews had back-to-back goals late in the third period as the United States beat Canada 4-2 on Saturday in both teams' first preliminary games of the world junior hockey championship.

Colin White and Zach Werenski also scored for the Americans (1-0), while Alex Nedeljkovic made 25 saves for the win.

Matt Barzal and Dylan Strome supplied the offence as Canada (0-1) begins its title defence of last year's world junior title. Mason McDonald stopped 21 shots in net.

Canada opened scoring five minutes into the second period. Julien Gauthier was instrumental in the play, getting a partial breakaway and then passing to Rourke Chartier. As Chartier got off a shot, Gauthier fell to the ice and slid into the boards, scrambling back toward the goal line.

The rebound went off Nedeljkovic and bounced to Gauthier, who was still on his knees from his fall. He made a heads-up play, passing the puck from his knees back to the trailing Barzal, who put the puck into the open net.

White tied it 1-1 just over 11 minutes later on assists from Sonny Milano and Christian Dvorak.

A costly goalie interference penalty taken by John Quenneville helped the United States take a 2-1 lead 7:22 into the third period.

Werenski scored on the power play for the Americans, with assists going to Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk.

Strome tied the game 2-2 with 9:15 left in the third period, thanks to Werenski's slashing penalty.

As Strome dangled the puck around American defenders, fans started to shout "SHOOT!," with the largely Canadian crowd jumping to its feet when he snapped the puck past Nedeljkovic.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospects Mitch Marner and Travis Dermott assisted on the power-play goal.

The United States responded six minutes later, with Belpedio scoring. Less than a minute later Matthews scored to put the game away for the United States.

Alex DeBrincat earned a five-minute major and a game misconduct after spearing Travis Konecny when the play was already whistled dead with 2:40 left in the first period.

DeBrincat is one of the brightest stars for the Americans, with 33 goals and 23 assists this season for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

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