France stun Olympic champs Canada
File picture shows French goalkeeper Cristobal Huet in action against the USA in Helsinki - by Alexander Nemenov
Despite missing all of the team which delivered gold at the Sochi Olympics in February, Canada still boasted a squad of NHL talent. France, in contrast, had just two players who feature in the North American league.
Forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who plays in the Swedish league, proved to be France's winning star, scoring the crucial shootout goal against a Canada squad whose last world title came back in 2007.
The victory was the second by France against Canada at the world championships dating back to 1931 -- the French previously defeated Canada in 1995.
In their most recent world championship meetings, Canada won 9-1 in 2011 and 7-2 in 2012.
France goalkeeper Cristobal Huet, who made 34 saves, denied Kyle Turris, Sean Monahan and Matt Read before Bellemare connected for the winner in the shootout.
"Any time we beat a top-six, it's huge," France coach Dave Henderson told the IIHF website. "Canada is where hockey is. If you beat Canada, it's a huge thing for French hockey."
Canada took a 2-1 lead with 9:18 remaining in the third period when Erik Gudbranson of the Florida Panthers scored.
France levelled two minutes later when Stephane Da Costa of the Ottawa Senators scored his second power-play goal with 7:25 left.
Da Costa had scored a power-play goal late in the first period to give France a 1-0 lead before Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers tied it up at 1-1.
“You look at that team after they won that game, that’s like winning a Stanley Cup for them,” said Canada coach Dave Tippett.
Elsewhere, the Czech Republic saw off Slovakia 3-2, Russia beat Switzerland 5-0 and the United States routed Belarus 6-1.