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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canucks forget bullets for shootout

Go 1-of-8 in loss to Switzerland

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Lindy Ruff was left wishing for selfishness from his talented Canadian forwards Sunday at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Too much passing and not enough getting the puck on net in regulation were the root causes of a 3-2 shootout loss to Switzerland.

Canada's inability to score more than one goal in eight rounds of a shootout will be the talk of the game, but it was a secondary issue.

Canada passed the puck around for 34 seconds with an extra attacker and never got a shot away during a delayed penalty early in the second period. Switzerland intercepted a pass to kill the play. That was a snapshot of Canada's loss.

"We're passing to open people and the puck isn't going to the net enough," Ruff said. "We had a couple of wide-open looks that we could have shot and didn't shoot. That's a bit of the mentality that we've got to get away from."

Switzerland's win was just the second in 28 world championship games against Canada, following a 4-1 victory in 2010.

The Canadians mustered just three shots on Martin Gerber in the first period and 21 during regulation. The former NHL goaltender stopped Canada's Matt Duchene for the win after Reto Suri scored his second of the shootout on Canada's Mike Smith.

Duchene was the only Canadian to beat Gerber in the shootout and the Colorado Avalanche forward scored on the first of three attempts.

Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers was stopped twice. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers forwards Claude Giroux and Matt Read were also denied by 38-year-old Gerber, who won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

Denis Hollenstein and New York Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter scored in regulation for the Swiss. Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd and Read were Canada's goals corers.

Canada had three practices as a team before their first game. Testing and trying out systems and generating team cohesion while trying to win games at the same time is a tall order.

"You're trying to learn on the go for sure, which makes it a little tougher, but we've all played similar game plans," Ladd said. "I think the big thing is getting used to the big ice and how some of the teams play over here.

"Our starts have been slow and we've gotten better over the course of both games, which is good to see, but we'd probably like to create a little more offensively and that's simplifying a bit instead of making the pretty play."

Smith was thrown into the deep end in his first world championship game for Canada. The Phoenix Coyotes goalie made 26 saves and stopped six of eight in extra shots.

"He gave us an opportunity to win it," Ruff said. "You can't criticize that. We had our opportunities and didn't take advantage of it.

"You'd probably pick some of the talent we had shooting to win you the game and it didn't go our way."

Canada earned four points out of a possible six from their two games in two days to start the tournament. They opened with a 3-1 win over Denmark and face Norway on Tuesday.

The strength of this Canadian team is the international experience and pedigree of the forwards. Ruff coached Canada to a silver medal in 2009, but there hasn't been a podium since. Canadian teams have lost three straight quarter-finals at the world championships.

The Swiss upset the host Swedes to start the tournament and have five points behind leader Norway with six in the Stockholm pool. The Norwegians edged Denmark 3-2 and Belarus edged Slovenia 4-3 Sunday.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a hat trick in Russia's 4-1 win over Germany and the United States beat Latvia by the same score in Helsinki. Russia and the Americans top the Helsinki pool with six points each.

The top four teams in each group of eight countries gets into the quarter-final round.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2013 C5

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