USA wins World Junior opener
Kreider picks up assist in 3-2 overtime victory over Finland
• Bourque Watch
Nick Bjugstad scored at 3:08 of overtime as Team USA got its defense of the World Junior Championship gold medal off to a strong start with a 3-2 win over Finland on Sunday night at Buffalo, N.Y.
The American team, which includes Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque, had led 2-1 until late in the third period, when Finland scored to force overtime.
Team USA took a 1-0 lead late in the first period, when Justin Faulk scored on a power play off assists from Kreider and John Merrill at the 18:54 mark. That lead held up through 20 minutes, as the Americans outshot the Finns 9-7.
Finland came back to tie the game at 13:50 of the second period, but only 78 seconds later, the Americans were back in front, 2-1, on an unassisted goal by Jason Zucker. The Finns outshot the Americans 14-10 in the middle period, and held a 23-17 shots advantage after 40 minutes. Bourque fired two of Team USA's 10 second-period shots.
Finland tied the score with an even-strength goal by Iiro Pakarinen at 12:59 of the third period. There was no further scoring in the third, and the game went to overtime.
Shots were 12-11 in favor of Team USA in the third period, although Finland had a 34-30 overall advantage in shots for the game. Kreider had his lone shot on goal in the third period, while Bourque also had a third-period shot to finish the game with three.
Kreider opened the game on Team USA's top line alongside fellow NHL first-round draft picks Charlie Coyle and Kyle Palmieri, while Bourque skated on the third line alongside fellow alternate captain Jeremy Morin and Bjugstad, a 2010 first-round pick of the Florida Panthers.
The American team returns to action on Tuesday against Slovakia.
In another World Junior Championship tournament game involving a Rangers prospect on Sunday, Sweden beat Norway 7-1. Blueshirts 2010 draftee Jesper Fasth assisted on a goal by Tim Erixon at 0:49 of the third period, stretching Sweden's lead to 5-0 at the time.
Fasth, who skated on Sweden's top line, finished with one shot on goal and a plus-1 rating.
Rangers prospect Roman Horak, who is playing in his second straight World Junior tournament with the Czech Republic, will begin play on Monday, when the Czechs face Norway.