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France shocks Canada, opens the World Championships with a shootout win

MINSK, BELARUS - MAY 9: France's Damien Fleury #9 celebrates with the bench after Team France's first goal of the game during preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
MINSK, BELARUS - MAY 9: France's Damien Fleury #9 celebrates with the bench after Team France's first goal of the game during preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images

France stunned the hockey world on Friday, beating heavily-favored Canada in the opening game of the 2014 World Championships in a shootout by a score of 3-2. It was just the second time France has ever beaten Canada in the World Championships, which began in 1931.

"Any time we beat a top-six team, it’s huge," said French coach Dave Henderson. "Canada is where hockey is. If you beat Canada, it's a huge thing for French hockey."

Pierre-Édouard Bellemare was able to score in the only goal in the shootout. While Ottawa Senators prospect Stephane da Costa got both of France’s goals in regulation. Former NHL goaltender Cristobal Huet cast aside 34 of 36 Canadian shots to get the game into a shootout; where he was able to deny all three of Canada’s shooters.

"France defended very well in front of their net," said Canadian coach Dave Tippett. "We didn't create enough opportunities, and Huet made some big saves for them. It shows how hard this tournament is. It shows how hard teams are going to play against Canada. It's a good lesson for our young players."

The defending Olympic champions, Canada got goals from forward Brayden Schenn and defenseman Erik Gudbranson. The latter goal had to be reviewed, but was upheld; with Nathan MacKinnon being credited with the assist.

Both of France’s goals came on the powerplay, as Canada struggled to keep their composure; getting called for six penalties.

Despite capturing gold at the last two Olympic games, Canada has not medaled in the World Championships since 2009; last winning gold in 2007. Both teams return to action on Sunday; when Canada plays Slovakia and France faces off against Italy.