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Team Canada

Carey Price win streak hits sweet 16

Team Canada goalie hasn't lost international game since 2005

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

TORONTO -- Carey Price arrived for his postgame interview late Thursday night wearing a ball cap with a pair of messy ski goggles perched atop it.

"For the champagne?" he was asked.

"Yes," came the reply with a laugh, though the bubbly was, in fact, beer. "I might wear them all night."

Price had just made 32 saves to help Team Canada to a 2-1 victory against Team Europe at Air Canada Centre, earning it the championship of the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Price's personal national-team win streak is at 16. The last time he lost a game wearing a Canada jersey was in April 2005, three months before he was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the fifth pick in the 2005 NHL Draft.

Price is 16-0-0 since that 5-1 loss to the United States in Plzen, Czech Republic, in the gold-medal game of the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

If there was no mention to him Thursday of that unhappy result, his winning streak was brought to his attention.

"Everybody's brought it up, yeah," Price said. "I thought it might be over tonight, but we just willed our way through it."

Video: CAN@EUR, Gm2: Price stops 2-on-0 shorthanded chance

Indeed, it seemed that Team Canada and Team Europe might be headed for a third and deciding game in their best-of-3 final. But then Team Canada struck for two late goals to touch off a joyful celebration across the country.

"It's a lot of fun, for sure," Price said. "You've got to give that team credit over there, they played really hard tonight and deserved a better fate. They brought everything they had and they really pushed us to the limit. But there are a lot of players on this team who have won championships and know what it takes to win. [We] just kept pounding and grinding it out and found a way to do it."

Goals by Patrice Bergeron, on the power play at 17:07 of the third period, and Brad Marchand, the shorthanded game-winner 2:09 later, erased the 1-0 lead Zdeno Chara had given Team Europe, sending Team Canada away with the World Cup title.

Jaroslav Halak, Price's former Canadiens teammate, made 32 saves in a terrific performance for Team Europe.

Price finished this tournament with a 5-0-0 record and a sensational save percentage of .957. He was 5-0-0 (.972) at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 6-0-0 (.961) at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship, winning gold in each of those tournaments, to account for his personal streak of 16-0-0.

Team Europe brought everything Price figured it would with its tournament life on the line, having lost 3-1 to Team Canada in Game 1 on Tuesday.

"They played tight, they played structured, they played fast, and they had a lot of guys that skated really well," Price said of Team Europe's performance in the two games. "They made it difficult. They played a pretty flawless game, and it came down to a power play and a great play on [the penalty kill]."

Price heaped praise on Marchand, knowing full well that his World Cup teammate will reintroduce himself rudely in the goal crease the first time the Canadiens play the hard-edged forward's Boston Bruins.

"We'll take our opportunities as we can get them," Price said of Marchand's opportunistic shorthanded goal. "That was a heck of a play and a great shot. I thought [Marchand] had the best shot on the whole squad. He shoots pellets, I'm not surprised."

Video: CAN@EUR: Price quickly reacts to keep game tied at 1

It was a physical night for Price, who was crushed to the ice by Team Europe forward Marian Hossa in the second period, his mask knocked off in the process.

As fate would have it, Price stoned Hossa in the final minutes of the game, in perfect position to rob the forward following a crisp Thomas Vanek feed from behind the net.

"I just wanted [the mask] back from the linesman," Price said, adding that neither revenge nor a reckoning was on his mind after Hossa had bulldogged him to the ice.

"Then (the save) at the end of the game, it was just a quick play. They made a good play behind the net, and I just tried to make myself big and I squeezed it."

This was Price's third Canada championship, a different cast but with a similar dynamic.

"This group bonded right away," he said. "Every championship team says that, but right from the start of camp, we all bought in. That was our motto.

"At least some of the guys said we have to buy in," Price added with a laugh, "and we had a lot of buying in."

Beer-stained ski goggles on his head, Price stepped from behind his microphone and headed into the night, his wife, Angela, and infant daughter, Liv, in the arena awaiting him.

Canadiens training camp is at hand, and the goalie's NHL team is counting on him for a huge season after injury cost him almost all of last season.

He'll get at least a few days off before reporting to Montreal to refocus.

"I hope a week!" Price said brightly, knowing better.

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