Leetch has two assists as U.S. wins Cup primer
Posted: Monday August 23, 2004 11:12PM; Updated: Monday August 23, 2004 11:12PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Hockey is back in North America, even if it's only for the 22 days of the World Cup.
"It's always big for any team to beat Canada," Guerin said.
The United States, which won the previous World Cup tournament in 1996, got off to a slow start but dominated the final two periods. Canada did not get off a shot in the first 12:22 of the third period.
"We're three days from skating around by ourselves and being on the beach," Leetch said. "You never know what to expect."
After three exhibition games -- a rematch Wednesday night against Canada in Ottawa and back in Columbus against Russia on Friday -- the United States opens play Aug. 31 against Canada in Montreal.
The World Cup championship game is set for Sept. 14 in Toronto. That's the night before the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires. A lockout that threatens next season is a distinct possibility.
Canada goaltender Martin Brodeur stopped Chris Chelios at the 6-minute mark and Chris Drury from the right boards later in the first period. Brodeur, the Vezina Trophy winner the past two NHL seasons, stopped all 18 shots he faced before being replaced halfway through the second period by Roberto Luongo.
The Americans scored on two of their first four shots against the Florida Panthers' goalie.
Luongo had been on the ice just seven seconds when Guerin's backhander trickled through between his pads.
"It was just lying there, sitting on the ice, and I pushed it toward the net," Guerin said. "I'm not sure how it got through."
With just under a minute remaining in the period, Leetch's pass from the point was deflected to Rolston. The puck floated between his skates, but he was able to push it through heavy traffic past a surprised Luongo for a 2-1 lead.
Leopold made it 3-1 with 6:57 remaining in the third period when he scored from the high slot off an assist from Drury after Chelios muscled the puck into the zone against Eric Brewer.
The Edmonton Oilers' Ty Conklin started in goal for the Americans and gave up Heatley's goal but made several sterling saves before giving way to Rick DiPietro at the start of the second period. DiPietro, of the New York Islanders, stopped all eight shots he saw.
"They were skating better and beat us to the puck," Canada's Jarome Iginla said. "They had some odd-man rushes. That's something we need to work on."
Notes: Three hours before the puck was dropped, dozens of college-age men, their hair dyed red, wandered around downtown Columbus carrying a Canadian flag. ... Midway through the first period, there was a live video hookup to Iraq with members of the 706th Transport Unit from Mansfield, Ohio. ... The Canadian line of Mario Lemieux, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards didn't play. Lemieux and his linemates will play in the two remaining exhibitions in Canada. ... The loudest applause came when Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky was shown on the video screens over center ice late in the game.