Pacioretty: Kane gives U.S. a chance to win World Cup

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TORONTO (AP) Patrick Kane looks at 2010 Vancouver Olympic final loss to Canada as the United States being one goal away from gold. Jonathan Quick looks at the 2014 Sochi Olympic semifinal loss as the U.S. being one goal away from playing for gold.

This generation of U.S. players has always been one goal away and unable to finish the job. With Kane, Quick, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and captain Joe Pavelski among those back for another crack, the realization is setting in that this World Cup of Hockey is the Americans’ best and perhaps last chance to win an international championship.

Coach John Tortorella has told his team, “It’s time.”

“We’re probably in the prime and peak of our careers right now where we feel that it’s time to make something happen,” Kane said. “You can think about that pressure, you can do whatever you want with it, but it comes down to this tournament for us and this tournament only.”

The Americans open tournament play in Toronto on Saturday against Team Europe, and the showdown against Canada is Tuesday. With only three games in round-robin play, there’s urgency for every team to start strong and no breathing room.

Kane pointed out that previous American generations won at the 1960 and 1980 Olympics and 1996 World Cup of Hockey. Kane, Quick, Parise, Suter, Pavelski, David Backes and Ryan Kesler have been around for six years and through two Olympics and it’s not just time, it’s about time.

“We’ve been there and we’ve had our chances and it’s time to break through,” Pavelski said. “We’ve been close, but we’re looking for a little bit more out of each other and to really find that right ingredient and that big play at the right moment.”

Look no further than Kane, who won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP last season for the Chicago Blackhawks and led the league in scoring with 106 points. He’s the brightest of the U.S. stars and will have to do better than the zero goals and four points he produced in Sochi. Winger Max Pacioretty called Kane “the best player in the game” and the World Cup the perfect situation for him.

“I’d go as far as to say our team has a good chance because Patrick Kane is in his prime,” Pacioretty said. “This tournament sets up perfectly for him. … A guy like that can change a game in one shift so I think for the rest of the team our identity is be hard to play against, make life difficult for them, but Kaner, let him do his thing.”

Some things to watch as the United States faces Europe:

LINE SHUFFLE

Tortorella has Kane with left winger James van Riemsdyk and center Derek Stepan, and Pavelski centering Parise and Blake Wheeler, but won’t hesitate to shake things up. Already Pacioretty has been bounced around the lineup, and everyone is on a short leash.

“We can’t wait and it’s not about feeling our way through,” Tortorella said.

LAST CHANCE

Europe coach Ralph Krueger isn’t professing “it’s time” for a team that has never played together before, but he does know the clock is running out on players like 39-year-old Zdeno Chara, 38-year-old Mark Streit, 37-year-old Marian Hossa and 35-year-old Dennis Seidenberg.

“For a lot of them it might be the last time on this big a stage to have an opportunity to do something special, and we can feel the hunger for that,” Krueger said.

QUICK VS. HALAK

Quick starts in goal for the U.S. against Europe’s Jaroslav Halak, who was impressive in the exhibition finale against Sweden. Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Europe’s top offensive players could be a tougher test for Quick than anyone thinks.

EARLY JITTERS

The teams are full of veteran players who are familiar with elite tournaments, but the first game of the entire World Cup could see some early butterflies. A first-period mistake could have a long-term impact, especially because goal differential is a tiebreaker.

BRUTE STRENGTH

If there’s anything U.S. has more than other teams in the tournament it’s size and strength. Europe can’t match that and will have to use finesse and playmaking to counteract the Americans’ power.

Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.