HELSINKI - Brent Sutter ran his unbeaten record to 20-0-1 coaching Canada internationally here Friday.
But sometimes wins can look like a loss, especially when there’s a loss of players involved. And Team Canada appeared to lose another player.
In a 3-2 win over Slovakia to open this year’s world championship, Alex Burrows, the most senior member of Canada’s team — having just turned 31 yet playing his first game wearing a Team Canada uniform at any level — was leveled in what appeared to be an accidental collision.
Struggling to get up, he left the ice woozy and did not return.
“He fell back and hit his head,” said freshly minted Captain Canada Ryan Getzlaf, who saw the second-period incident involving Burrows. Burrows was on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
“It’s tough to see someone going down like that,” said RNH. “I saw he was in a battle and then I saw him struggling to get off the ice.”
Eberle didn’t see the play, either, but helped the Vancouver Canuck off the ice.
“I was in the corner when it happened and when I saw him having trouble getting up and getting to the bench. I was closest to help him.”
The two Oilers ended up with Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets joining them for the second half of the game. Eberle scored his first tournament goal with Kane getting the assist.
Canada had already put P.K. Subban on a plane back to Canada and declared defenceman Marc Methot of the Columbus Blue Jackets to be day-to-day, with a lower body injury — believed to be a groin — and was not put on the Canadian roster when it was submitted.
That resulted in undrafted junior Ryan Murray being put on the roster and becoming the second-youngest player, after Paul Kariya, to ever play for Canada at the world championship.
Team Canada GM Kevin Lowe was optimistic about the prospects of both, and said by adding Murray, he’s back to looking for one defenceman to bring over now, instead of two.
“Burrows was going OK after the game. He’ll be re-evaluated, but he was doing fine in the dressing room. And Marc is better today. He certainly going to play again in the tournament.”
The win was nothing to write home about but we’ll use the rest of this space to do that.
There were times there when international win No. 20 didn’t look so secure for Sutter.
“We hoped we could surprise Canada in the first game and we managed to do that for half the game,” said Slovakian coach Vladimir Vujtec.
Sutter knows fans at home are always expecting Canada to have a break-out game early at the world championship, and a 3-2 win over Slovakia wasn’t it, for the team that plays the United States Saturday.
“Our goal is to get better every game and I think we’ve done that,” said the recently unemployed former Calgary Flames coach.
“Our game got better after the first period. These games are tight. These teams are playing together a lot.”
The players were unanimous with that as they made the trek from the ice through the mixed zone to the dressing room.
“There definitely was some rust out there,” said Getzlaf, who played his first game overseas after missing the playoffs with the Anaheim Ducks.
“It was our first game. You want to make improvements as you go along but still win the game. That’s pretty much what happened,” said Patrick Sharp.
Canada opened the scoring with Murray getting a plus 1 on a Jamie Benn goal assisted by Getzlaf and Duncan Keith, the only goal of a quiet first period.
After Tomas Tatar scored to tie it early in the second, Canada’s Jay Bouwmeester and Andrew Ladd rang shots off the post before Eberle managed to trickle one just over the line.
Ladd ended up with the winner in the first world championship game involving Winnipeg Jets playing for Canada since 1994.
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