First blood to Canada as Europe downed in World Cup of Hockey final

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Toronto (Canada) (AFP)

Canada defeated Europe 3-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three World Cup of Hockey final series.

Boston Bruins wing Brad Marchand on Tuesday opened the scoring for Canada early in the first period before Steven Stamkos doubled Canada's lead.

Canadian hopes of a one-sided romp at the Air Canada Centre were jolted when Europe pulled a goal back midway through the second period.

Detroit Redwings' left wing Tomas Tatar, whose over-time winner had fired Europe into the final, made it 2-1 after seven minutes of the second period.

Tatar's fellow Slovak Andrej Sekera almost leveled 2-2 just before the end of the second period but was denied with a superb block by Canada goalie Carey Price.

Canada star Sidney Crosby then set up a third for the hosts with some sublime play along the boards for Patrice Bergeron to finish from close range for 3-1.

Europe finished the game with an empty net but Canada were unable to extend their lead in a frenzied closing spell.

The Canadians can claim the World Cup crown with victory in Game Two on Thursday.