TORONTO — One game into the World Cup of Hockey, the United States is on the verge of elimination.

The U.S. goes into its showdown against Canada on Tuesday night needing a victory to survive and give itself a chance to advance to the semifinals.

A loss in the opener to Team Europe and Europe’s overtime victory over the Czech Republic on Monday made this a win-or-go-home game for the Americans.

U.S. players circled the game against Canada as the biggest game of the tournament as soon as the schedule was released. Based on their precarious position, it has become exactly that.

“We were looking forward to this game as a great measuring stick, and the result of not winning the first game is it’s also for our lives now,” center David Backes said. “We can’t hold anything back. This is all the chips on the table for our team, and we need to play desperate.”

Coach John Tortorella called it the Americans’ “championship game” even before it was clear that they had to win to stay alive. He expects a charged atmosphere at Air Canada Centre, where the U.S. is the enemy and is facing a must-win game.


“Playing there, against them, everybody wants us knocked out,” Tortorella said Monday. “I can’t wait and I think our players can’t wait for this game to start. It’s going to be a blast.”

The U.S. focus has been on Canada, but the host and tournament favorite is focused on itself. Goaltender Carey Price called facing the U.S. “just another game,” and Canada is going about its business as usual.

“The most important game you’re playing in these tournaments is the one you’re playing tomorrow,” coach Mike Babcock said.

Canadian players even brushed aside eliminating the U.S. as a source of motivation. Canada just wants to beat everyone.

“I don’t think we really look at their situation,” defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. “I think we know the magnitude of the game just because of who we’re playing – the rivalry and all that.

Canada would clinch a spot in the semifinals for itself and Europe with a win.


EUROPE 3, CZECH REPUBLIC 2: Leon Draisaitl at 2:06 of overtime to lift Europe to a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic at Toronto.

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