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Team Canada

Top line continues to lift Team Canada

Brad Marchand, Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron get six points in Game 1 win against Team Europe

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Even when Team Canada didn't play its best, it had the best line on the ice.

The combination of Brad Marchand, Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron continued its roll through the World Cup of Hockey 2016 with two goals and four assists in a 3-1 win against Team Europe in Game 1 of the final at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

Marchand had a goal and an assist, Crosby had two assists, and Bergeron had a goal and an assist to put Team Canada in position to wrap up the best-of-3 series in Game 2 here Thursday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, CBC, TVA, TVA Sports).

Crosby leads the World Cup with nine points on three goals and six assists in five games. Marchand leads the tournament with four goals and has three assists. Bergeron has six points on three goals and three assists.

"They're good," Team Europe center Frans Nielsen said. "You can't give them any freebies right in the slot there or stuff like that. That's one of those lines that you've got to make sure that you don't turn any pucks over and try to make them defend and play in their end. But it's tough. They're good. They have such a good mix of Crosby with all that talent, Bergeron, a two-way player, and Marchand, a guy that really goes hard to the net and is tough to play against."

Video: EUR@CAN, Gm1: Marchand opens scoring on early break

Marchand, Crosby and Bergeron displayed all their elements Tuesday. Marchand celebrated signing an eight-year, $49 million contract extension with the Boston Bruins on Monday by scoring on a 2-on-1 2:33 into the first period.

After Team Europe failed to score during Marchand's cross checking penalty, it turned over the puck in Team Canada's end and Crosby made a quick pass up to Bergeron to start the 2-on-1. Bergeron raced in on goaltender Jaroslav Halak before feeding Marchand on his left for the finish.

"It's always good when you're able to get one early," Marchand said. "[Bergeron] and Sid have been playing great all tournament. So it's nice to get those."

Team Canada was sluggish for much of the first two periods and entered the third with a 2-1 lead. Crosby gave them some breathing room by setting up Bergeron in the slot for a goal at 9:24.

Video: EUR@CAN, Gm1: Bergeron pads the lead on Crosby's dish

Crosby shed the check of defenseman Mark Streit behind the net before sliding a backhand to Bergeron, who beat Halak with a shot off his left arm.

"He's making some pretty plays and we're trying to help him out as a line and create as much as possible," Bergeron said of Crosby.

Always a perfectionist, Crosby wasn't satisfied. That could be because his line was on the ice for Team Europe's goal.

"I still feel like tonight we did some good things, but like the entire group we feel like we didn't manage the puck quite as well and we were playing in our own end more than we wanted to, so we'll look to get better," Crosby said. "But I think the chemistry is there. We can make plays. We just have to make sure they're at the right time."

Video: RUS@CAN: Crosby steals the puck and scores

Team Canada coach Mike Babcock agreed with Crosby's assessment of the line.

"They've had a good tournament. They've played real well," Babcock said. "They've got three elite players on it and all different types of players, but they've been really good. I don't know if they were as good tonight as they have been, but they were good."

They've been at their best when Team Canada has needed a big goal. In a 5-3 win against Team Russia in the semifinals Saturday, Crosby scored the first goal by stealing the puck from defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the left circle and sliding a backhand around goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

After Team Russia took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov with 3:36 remaining in the second period, Crosby responded by setting up Marchand for the tying goal 1:12 later. Crosby then set up Marchand for the go-ahead goal 1:16 into the third period.

"Sid shows up every game. There's no question of that," Marchand said. "He makes so many plays. He's so strong on the puck and you see that on [Bergeron's] goal. He held off two of three guys and made a great play. I can't say enough good stuff about Sid. He's an incredible player."

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