Jamie Drysdale broke open a scoreless game at 3:52 of the third period as Canada defeated Russia 1-0 on Wednesday night in their only pre-competition match ahead of the 2021 IIHF World Juniors.
The win for Canada may have come at a price. Team captain Kirby Dach was injured shortly after Drysdale's goal.
Dach went in to check Ilya Safonov in the neutral zone. Upon completing the check, Dach grabbed his right arm. He took the glove off the arm and skated off to the dressing room and did not finish the game.
Team Canada head coach Andre Tourigny told TSN's Ryan Rishaug that there was no update on Dach's status for the tournament and more X-rays are needed.
If Dach is no longer able to continue, Canadian would not be able to replace their team captain, given strict quarantine rules.
"That's why we had 25 players," Tourigny said after the game. "My understanding of the rules is once you are quarantining in Edmonton that you cannot bring any new players who is not in the quarantine zone."
Dach was loaned to Canada by the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. He had eight goals and 15 assists in 64 games last season. His current participation at World Juniors also represented his second appearance in an Edmonton bubble.
Dach scored a goal and five assists in nine playoff games during the NHL's Return-to-Play bubble last summer.
Canada was playing in their first competitive game since opening up training camp 37 days ago. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in positive cases that forced the cancellation of all planned warm-up games, along with a reduction in practices in Red Deer, Alberta, before moving into the Edmonton bubble, the host city for the 2021 IIHF World Juniors competition.
Five players on Team Canada suited up in a league game this season, while the entire Russian roster has suited up for competitive games.
Devon Levi got the nod in goal for Canada. He is just the fourth-ever NCAA goaltender to start for Canada at a World Juniors competition and put in a shutout performance in his debut.
"I always pictured myself as a kid playing in this tournament and I never thought it was going to come true," Levi said. "I feel I played a good game, but the team played unreal in front of me."
Yaroslav Askarov played the first 40 minutes for Russia and made 22 saves. He is the highest-ranked Russian goaltender to be selected in an NHL Draft, 11th overall by the Nashville Predators in 2020.
It was a rematch of the 2020 World Juniors where Canada defeated Russia to win the gold medal in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Canada was under pressure early when Dylan Holloway took a holding penalty just 57 seconds into the game. The team successfully killed it off with Russia not mustering much of an attack.
Canada's best chance to score in the opening frame came at the 8:03 mark. Jakob Pelletier beat Askarov with a shot over his right arm only to have it hit the crossbar. Pelletier collected his rebound but Askarov was able to make the save and froze play.
Askarov was tested often but made several difficult saves to keep the Russians in the game.
Apart from the scoring chances, it was a fairly even tilt between both teams. Shots on goal in the opening frame were 11 apiece.
The Russians came out flying to start the second period. Yegor Afanasyev had a chance in the slot but hit the far post on his shot attempt.
Canada went on their third power play of the game and registered a decent scoring chance when Peyton Krebs fired a quick shot from the slot, but Askarov shut the door. A marked improvement over the last two attempts where Canada recorded no shots on goal.
Russia picked up a late breakaway opportunity toward the end of the second period but Levi made the save for Canada to keep things even.
Russia switched goaltenders to start the third period. Artur Akhtyamov, the Toronto Maple Leafs' fourth-round pick from 2020, took the net to start the third period.
Drysdale broke the deadlock when the Canadian took advantage of a line change by getting set up along the right side, and his shot from along the boards went over the blocker of Akhtyamov and into the top corner of the net.
"Fetts (Canadian linemate Cole Perfetti) got me as the late man." Drysdale said of the goal. "I just saw a lane and just tried to take it and it ended up working out."
Canada will take on Germany in group play action on Saturday on TSN.