NA beats Europe again in WC exhibition

MONTREAL — Aaron Ekblad, Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin each scored twice as Team North America beat Team Europe 7-4 on Sunday in the second of three exhibition games for both sides leading into the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Morgan Rielly also scored for North America (2-0). John Gibson made 29 saves.

Marian Gaborik had two goals for Europe (0-2). Pierre-Edouard Bellemare andFrans Nielsen also scored.

Goalie Thomas Greiss allowed four goals on eight shots before being pulled 10 minutes into the first period. His replacement, former Montreal Canadiens netminderJaroslav Halak, made 22 saves on 24 shots.

North America’s win comes three days after beating Europe 4-0 in Quebec City.

Down 5-1 after 20 minutes, Europe scored three straight goals to make a game of it. But the comeback was cut short when Gaudreau sealed it for North America with his second of the game at 11:29 of the third.

Speed and youth overcame experience for the second time as North America was all over the puck, especially in the opening frame.

Ekblad scored twice within two minutes in the first period to set the tone.

Ekblad’s first, a slapshot from close range, went top shelf at 5:20 to open the score. Larkin added another 1:07 later and Ekblad went five-hole on Greiss at 7:19 to make it 3-0 for North America.

After Bellemare cut the deficit to two, Rielly chased Greiss form the game when his shot from the point deflected off Mark Streit and in at 10:22.

That’s when Halak, who received a warm welcome from the 17,243 in attendance at the Bell Centre, came into the game. The New York Islanders goalie was not expected to play on Sunday after his 17-save effort in Thursday’s contest.

The Slovak conceded a fluke goal to Gaudreau late in the first period but stopped all 12 shots he faced in the second to keep Europe hanging in.

That allowed the Europeans to begin their comeback. Gaborik beat a sprawled-out Gibson at 4:50 of the second to make it 5-2. North America claimed Gibson was interfered with, but the call stood.

The 34-year-old Gaborik finished off a great give-and-go between Mats Zuccarello and Nielsen at 19:15 for his second of the period.

Nielsen brought Europe to within one goal at 8:17 of the third, before Gaudreau made it 6-4 for North America.

Larkin added his second in an empty net in the game’s final minute.

Notes: Both teams play one more exhibition match before the tournament begins on Sept. 17… Twelve players on North America finished with at least a point… North America captain Connor McDavid finished without a point for the second straight game.

Source: NA beats Europe again in WC exhibition

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