Draisaitl winner as Europe down Czechs in World Cup of Hockey

Draisaitl winner as Europe down Czechs in World Cup of Hockey
Draisaitl winner as Europe down Czechs in World Cup of Hockey

Toronto (Canada) (AFP) - Leon Draisaitl scored in overtime as Europe upset the Czech Republic 3-2 at the World Cup of Hockey to leave the United States facing a must-win battle with Canada to stay in the competition.

Edmonton's German star Draisaitl on Monday scored on a breakaway after 2min 6sec of overtime at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to maintain Europe's 100 percent record with two wins out of two in Group A.

The result leaves the United States side -- beaten 3-0 by Europe on Saturday -- clinging onto their place in the competition. A defeat to Canada on Tuesday would see them eliminated.

Europe coach Ralph Krueger -- the Canadian-born former Germany international who is now the chairman of English Premier League soccer side Southampton -- said his team had always been confident of progressing in the tournament despite being rank outsiders with Las Vegas bookmakers.

"Coming in here at 33-1 longshot, the Las Vegas bookies, it's a lot of fun," Krueger said.

"(The guys) always believed we'd have a shot at being where we are today. Probably nobody outside of our room did. But I'm just so proud of the way the players have come together in this short period of time, how they're representing their countries on their arms and as a group how we've come together.

"There's just complete buy-in on this group -- I've never experienced anything quite like this as a coach in 25 years of head coaching. We're tight, and we're not done."

- Russians overpower North America -

Europe dominated the Czechs from the outset and led twice before Draisaitl's late winner. The Europeans took a 2-1 lead in the third period after Czech goalie Petr Mrazek fumbled a shot from Mats Zuccarello, the Norwegian winger who plays for the New York Rangers.

Until then, Detroit Red Wings goalie Mrazek had frustrated Europe with a superb display of defiance, saving 33 shots before Zuccarello's long-range effort crept in.

The Czechs, however, came back to level on a power play later when Martin Hanzal swept home a rebound after a point shot from Vladimir Sobotka.

The late flurry of goals came after a cagey opening which finally saw Europe take control in the second period, peppering Mrazek's goal with 21 shots.

The opener came from Slovakian defenseman Zdeno Chara, the Boston Bruins players catching out Mrazek as the Czech goalie scrambled to recover his stick.

It was a rare blemish by Mrazek, who also saved a penalty shot by Europe center Anze Kopitar during the second period onslaught.

Jakub Voracek scored the Czechs opening goal, beating Jaroslav Halak with a snap shot from the right.

In Monday's other game, Russia were given a fright by a youthful North America before running out 4-2 winner in Group B.

The North American team, made up of players who are 23 and under from the United States and Canada, took a 1-0 lead in the first period thanks to a Auston Matthews strike.

But Russia took control in the second period, scoring four goals through Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko to power into a 4-1 lead.

Morgan Rielly pulled a goal back for North America, but it was too little too late.