TORONTO – Matt Duchene said Team Canada’s 4-2 win over Team USA in the World Cup was “special” to him.
From his family in the crowd, to the atmosphere in the Air Canada Centre and then to the way the building erupted after both of Duchene’s goals, the young Avalanche star had several moments to cherish throughout the evening.
“To play on this stage against the U.S., find a couple (of goals) tonight – it felt pretty awesome,” Duchene said. “All those long hours of work kind of pay off. It felt good.”
The Canadians are built to beat different teams many different ways and Tuesday it was Duchene’s speed and finishing ability that made the difference in the victory.
“A guy like Dutchy can really skate,” coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s why we have him in. He gives us good speed and obviously he answered the bell tonight.”
At the 5:51 mark of the first period, Duchene corralled a bank off the backboards from Marc-Edouard Vlasic to knot the game at 1-1. Vlasic pointed out that the play to Duchene was meant to be a pass, not a shot.
“I try to do it when it’s there. He was in my shooting lane, so I aimed to miss the net and it worked,” Vlasic said. “I didn’t take out my protractor or anything. But I’m a good pool player, so maybe that helped. I saw Joe (Thornton) on one side of the net and saw Duchene on the other side, so I just had to send it behind the net and it worked out.”
“Two goals, that’s huge. But I have seen this before. I have seen the way he creates and I think we blend great together as a line, but it’s like those plays – he makes those amazing, stellar plays,” said Team Canada linemate and former Colorado teammate Ryan O’Reilly. “He creates so much. He does these phenomenal plays, the way he works his edges and creates his own space and in practice going against him he’s always one of the toughest guys to defend. I’m sure every other team feels that too.”
The day before the tournament started, Duchene was asked about his own personal motivations for Canada in the World Cup. He didn’t have any hesitation when he stated his desire to play for this group.
“For me, this is a team I had my eye on for two years before it was named, so the second it got brought up it became a goal of mine to make this team,” Duchene said last Friday. “I’m not alone in saying that. It means a lot to be here. “
Duchene has been an enthusiastic member of Team Canada for several years. He has played in three of the last four World Championships and was involved in four games in Canada’s Sochi Olympic triumph in 2014.
“He’s always had a ton of pride. For him even to make the Olympic team and played great there and then having a huge game tonight, you can tell he takes a great deal of pride in it,” O’Reilly said. “Knowing him and being close with him and playing so many years together it’s an exciting thing to be around.”
On any other team in the tournament, Duchene would be on the top two lines, but on Team Canada he’s part of a fourth line with O’Reilly and Joe Thornton that’s given Canada extra scoring depth and some solid two-way play. This has made Canada more dangerous as they head to the semifinal round, which they clinched in Wednesday’s win.
“A lot of confidence up and down our lineup. Everybody’s contributing at different points in the game, doing different things, blocking shots – whatever it may be, getting huge goals from Dutchy and crucial times, he got us going,” forward Corey Perry said. “That’s a big bonus for us.”
Even though it has been a couple of years since Colorado won the Central Division in 2013-14, this tournament should give the team cause for hope. Duchene has three points in the two games played. Nathan MacKinnon has a goal and an assist so for Team North America. Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored a goal in Team Sweden’s tournament opening win against Russia.
“I mean Landeskog is playing great too. Gabe was outstanding today when I watched him. He got a good goal the other day. Nate was a horse last night, I watched that game so yeah – you cheer on unless you play against them,” Duchene said. “I’m not going to cheer on (Team USA defenseman) Erik Johnson tonight but you root for your teammates in the NHL and watching those two do that, they look like they’re on a mission and I think we’re all pretty motivated to have a pretty good tournament here so we can carry it on to Colorado after.”
– – – – – – –
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY