Photo: Foto Norden/Magnus Eikli
Da Costa wins game for Les Bleus in OT
France dominated the game but couldn't find a way to get around the Italian defense. Stephane da Costa fired the game-winner in OT.
France outshot Italy 31-24 in the game and dominated the play for long periods at a time but could only beat Italy’s goaltender Andreas Bernard once in regulation time. Stephane da Costa won the game for France with his shot just 26 seconds into the overtime.
Veteran goaltender Cristobal Huet made 23 saves for France.
“I just thought, ‘finally’, when I saw the shot go in,” said France’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who picked up an assist to the goal.
“We had several chances but couldn’t capitalize on them but we found a way to win the game. In the Worlds, we’re the underdog but now we had to carry the game and we got a little tired in the second period,” he added.
On the back of the French team practice jerseys it says, “tous ensemble pour 2017”, a call for action for the 2017 World Championship that will be held in Paris and Cologne. Paris will be hosting the tournament for the first time since 1951, and qualifying for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea would certainly help keep the game in the spotlight.
But for that, they need to win their qualification group in Oslo.
“Four years ago, we only had a couple of days to prepare and found ourselves down by two goals after the first five minutes in our first game. It all comes down to details,” Team France coach Dave Henderson told IIHF.com after the team’s morning skate.
In their first game in Oslo, they looked nervous during the first five minutes but Italy couldn’t score early on and the longer the period went, the more France took over the game. They started to find the opening in Italy’s defense in the neutral zone and could send long passes through it, creating several good chances. However, Andreas Bernard in Italy’s goal was excellent.
Early in the second period, Jordan Perrett received a major penalty for checking from behind when he pushed an Italian defenseman into the glass behind Italy’s net. Halfway through the powerplay, the Kostner brothers found an opening. Simon Kostner passed the puck from the corner to Diego, who took a few strides towards the French net and shot the puck in through Cristobal Huet’s five-hole to give Italy the lead in the game 3.20 into the period.
France could tie the game just 2.20 later when Kevin Hecquefeuille found Florian Chakiachvili open in the slot. Chakiachvili turned and fired the puck past Bernard with a hard wrist shot.
Italy defended with a lot of heart and managed to keep France on the outside, making it easier for Bernard to turn away the shots that came all the way to his net.
"It went according to our plan. They had some great chances in the second period, but we defended really well," said Italy's goaltender Bernard.
France never got the big push it would have needed and the game ended in a 1-1 tie in regulation time. The 3-on-3 overtime was just 27 seconds old when da Costa fired his shot topshelf, ending the game
“It’s the win that counts, I don’t think this [lost point] will matter, especially if we keep our focus in the next game,” said Bellemare.