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USA Blanks France at the 2016 World Championships

Chris Wideman, Connor Murphy, J.T. Compher, and Brady Skjei scored for the U.S., and Dylan Larkin chipped in two assists.

“It was a real team effort out there,” said Condon. “We tried to play our game and do the things we needed to get the win. That was important for us, and we are happy to come out with the win.”

Coach John Hynes’ young squad earned its second win of these Worlds. To this point, they’ve also beaten Belarus, and lost to Canada and Finland. The U.S. won bronze at last year’s Worlds in the Czech Republic. It last took gold at a World Championship in 1933.

It was a setback for the French as they gun for their third World Championship quarter-final berth ever (1995, 2014). The underdogs kept the game scoreless for more than 34 minutes, but eventually broke down.

“I thought we played solid for the first 30 minutes,” said France’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. “The goalie made some big saves. We killed a couple of penalties and had power plays but couldn’t score. I think that is the thing that matters the most.”

Injuries have taken a toll on coach Dave Henderson’s French roster. in this game, they went without three regulars in forward Teddy Da Costa and defencemen Florian Chakiachvili and Teddy Trabichet.

This was Condon’s first World Championship goose egg ever. Florian Hardy got his first start of this tournament for France and made 27 stops, with third-stringer Ronan Quemener backing him up, as veteran Cristobal Huet sat this one out.

The Americans had the better of the play territorially early on, but didn’t generate Grade-A scoring chances around Hardy’s cage. France showed defensive tenacity when Auston Matthews tried to spark the U.S. power play with his puck-moving skills.

Early in the second, France took it to the Americans, who were often hemmed in their own end. Halfway through the period, Hardy made a fine glove save on a chance for U.S. blueliner David Warsofsky.

“We had a lot of power play opportunities but could not get anything there,” said Bellemare. “If we scored on one of those power plays, the score could be 2-0 or 2-1, and it is a different game.”

Seconds after Matthews nearly juggled a bouncing puck past the French defence with his stick, rearguard Yohann Auvitu was penalized for delaying the game after sliding into the goal and dislodging it. On the ensuing U.S. power play, Nick Foligno centered the puck from the goal line to Wideman, who had lots of net to shoot at, giving the U.S. a 1-0 lead at 14:23.

At 16:30, Murphy made it 2-0. Matthews controlled the puck in the French zone and then fed the assistant captain for a right point drive.

With just five seconds left in the middle frame, Compher put the game out of reach, surprising Hardy with a quick slapper from low in the right faceoff circle.

“It was a nice pass by [U.S captain Matt] Hendricks and [Tyler] Motte made a good play in the corner,” said Compher. “It was good for our line to get on the board and contribute in any way possible.”

Just 1:41 into the third, Skjei put the Americans up 4-0 when Larkin found him open at the blue line and he cruised in to send a wrister over Hardy’s glove.

Although the U.S. took three consecutive penalties afterwards, the French simply didn’t have any brilliant ideas for a comeback.

“I want to compete against NHLers, and it is a chance for me and for the team to improve,” said Auvitu. “So games like these and against Canada are important to play.”

The U.S. has added forward Brock Nelson after his New York Islanders were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the NHL playoffs. However, he did not play against France. Nelson scored a career-high 26 goals this season.

On Friday, the Americans will face winless Hungary. The French have another stiff test coming up against unbeaten Finland on Saturday.

The all-time U.S. record against France now stands at nine wins and one loss, dating back to 1993. France beat the U.S. 3-1 on May 14, 1998.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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