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Lightning's Drouin scores as North America tops Finland in World Cup

Team North America's Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrates his second goal with teammates Jonathan Drouin (72) and Aaron Ekblad (5) during an exhibition World Cup of Hockey game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP) RYR106

Team North America's Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrates his second goal with teammates Jonathan Drouin (72) and Aaron Ekblad (5) during an exhibition World Cup of Hockey game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP) RYR106

TORONTO — Jonathan Drouin and good buddy Nathan MacKinnon once dominated juniors as linemates with the Halifax Mooseheads.

That gave Sunday a familiar feel with Drouin, 21, a Lightning wing, playing alongside MacKinnon, an Avalanche center, for North America at the World Cup. The duo scored back-to-back goals in the second period of a 4-1 blowout of Finland at the Air Canada Center in their opener.

"We've done it a couple times before," Drouin said, smiling, referring to his history with MacKinnon.

On Drouin's goal, he craftily stickhandled into the slot before pouncing on his own rebound.

"I'm feeling great," Drouin said. "You don't really know what to expect (at the tournament)."

Drouin seems to have picked up where he left off in a dynamic postseason performance with Tampa Bay, racking up 14 points in 17 games last season. And North America, built with the top 23-and-under stars from United States and Canada, has gone from underdogs to the talk of the tournament's group play.

Lightning C Valtteri Filppula scored Finland's only goal.

DESPERATION MODE: Team USA coach John Tortorella called Sunday a "day of digestion," his players trying to stomach their stunning 3-0 loss to Europe a day earlier in the tournament opener.

Let's just say it didn't go down easy. "They're going to tell you they put (the loss) behind them," Tortorella said. "I don't think they have."

The loss puts the Americans on the brink of elimination while in group play. They most likely need a win over heavy tournament favorite Canada on Tuesday night to stay alive. If Europe beats the Czech Republic today, the United States is out with a loss to Canada. "Tuesday is our championship game," Tortorella said.

SHUT DOWN: Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov had a quiet opener in Russia's 2-1 loss to Sweden. Starting on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk, Kucherov registered just two shots in 15:28. By the third period, he was replaced on the line by the Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko. Kucherov is a restricted free agent. The Lightning hopes to have him signed by the time he returns from the World Cup. Nothing appears imminent.

QUICK SWITCH: Sweden was dealt a big blow before the game against Russia when starting G Henrik Lundqvist was scratched due to illness. The Rangers' 2012 Vezina Trophy winner was replaced by the Canucks' Jacob Markstrom, who made 27 saves.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Lightning C Vladislav Namestnikov, D Nikita Nesterov and G Andrei Vasilevskiy were scratches for Russia. … RW Ryan Callahan, who pulled out of the World Cup for the United States due to June hip surgery, was a guest analyst Saturday and Sunday on the NHL Network.

PROSPECT WATCH: The Lightning beat Nashville 4-1 in the rookie tournament in Coral Springs. F Brayden Point, who had two goals Saturday against the Capitals, scored again, and G Connor Ingram stopped 19 of 20 shots.

Lightning's Drouin scores as North America tops Finland in World Cup 09/18/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 19, 2016 12:00am]
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