ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Four goals in the span of 5:33 midway through the second period fuelled a 7-1 win for Team Canada over a determined Hungarian squad on Sunday at the world hockey championships in Russia.
Returning to the top division for the first time in seven years, the Hungarians were enthusiastically supported by a loud, energetic crowd in Yubileiny Arena.
Early on, those fans had plenty of reason to cheer — Hungary was within one goal at the end of the first period and controlled play in the early stages of the middle frame.
“They’re crazy,” said Canadian captain Corey Perry of the raucous supporters in the arena. “They stayed with it the whole game. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Canada came out strong before Hungary pushed back. Mark Scheifele opened the scoring at 5:54 of the first period after taking a feed from Mark Stone in the slot on the power play.
Then Taylor Hall deked out Hungarian defenceman Bence Stipsicz and slid the puck past sprawling goaltender Zoltan Hetenyi, allowing Perry to make an the easy tap-in for his first goal of the tournament at 10:04.
Istvan Bartalis sent the Hungarian fans into a frenzy with 1:46 remaining in the first, narrowing the lead to 2-1 after firing a neat snap shot over the shoulder of Canadian netminder Calvin Pickard after Matt Dumba was stripped of the puck at the end of a power play.
The Hungarians came out pressing in the second, but Pickard held the fort until Canada’s offence took over on goals from Mark Stone, Brad Marchand, Derrick Brassard and Michael Matheson.
Hungarian starter Hetenyi was pulled in favour of Adam Vay after giving up six goals on 24 Canadian shots in 32:45 of action.
Taylor Hall rounded out the scoring at the 4:35 mark of the third period.
Matheson, a late addition to the team on defence, led all Canadian skaters with a goal and two assists and was a team-high plus-four in 11:20 of ice time.
“You don’t want to overthink anything or put too much pressure on yourself,” said the 2012 first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, who spent most of his first professional season with the AHL Portland Pirates, of his role so far. “Just whatever’s given, you try to take it and do as much as you can with it.”
Another defenceman, Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks, recorded one assist and was named Canada’s player of the game.
“You can see the young guys leaning on him,” said coach Bill Peters of 26-year-old Tanev, who’s the veteran presence on a relatively inexperienced Canadian blue line. “I think he’s been a stabilizing force for us and someone that we might be able to use in even more situations than we have up to this point in the tournament.”
Making his first start as a member of Team Canada since the 2010 Under-18 Tournament, Calvin Pickard of the Colorado Avalanche stopped 21 of 22 Hungarian shots to record the win.
“He made a heck of a save on that two-on-one in the second period,” said Perry of Pickard’s effort. “He stood in there tall, made some big saves when he needed to.”
Canada is now 2-0 in St. Petersburg and riding a 12-game World Championship winning streak. The team will get back to work on Monday against 0-2 Belarus.
In other early action on Sunday, Kazakhstan came close to earning its first-ever win against the Russians in World Championship play before losing 6-4 in Moscow. Norway will face Switzerland and Sweden meets Denmark in later games.
In Group B in St. Petersburg, the 2-0 Finns play Germany and France takes on Slovakia.