The Americans came flying out of the gate against Canada in their preliminary round matchup at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship Sunday morning, but goaltender Malcolm Subban held them off the scoresheet and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins quickly stole away the momentum with a goal at the 7:13 mark of the first.
Ryan Strome added to the Canada lead at the about seven minutes later, and without the heroics of American goaltender John Gibson, that lead would be much more than just two heading into the first intermission.
Gibson made nine saves in the period, many of them on breakaway or fantastic Canadian opportunities at the net. The USA defense was absolutely brutal in the period, starting with No. 1 d-man Seth Jones, and Gibson bailed them out more than they deserved. The Americans cannot match the offensive firepower of the Canadians, so they must rely on their strong defense and quality goaltending to have a chance in the game. Half of that puzzle came together in the first.
On the flip side, however, Subban was at least Gibson's equal in the period. Long believed to be a weak point on the Canadian roster, the Boston Bruins draft selection made 10 saves in the first, most on a late USA power play and early in the period during the initial American attack. Subban could be a difference maker as the game goes on.
Both power plays had an opportunity in the first. The Americans killed off a Riley Barber slashing minor against the potent Canadian power play while Canada still has 19 seconds of a Strome penalty to kill at the start of the second.