May 9, 2014 1:47 pm

Canada defeated in hockey by France; yes, France.

Team France captain Laurent Meunier, right, and players gather around Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, centre, after he scored the winning goal in a shootout Friday, May 9, 2014 at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Minsk, Belarus.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MINSK, Belarus – Team Canada’s world hockey championship is off to a rough start after a stunning 3-2 shootout loss to France.

Even though it took a shootout, the defeat at Chizhovka-Arena stands out as one of Canada’s more embarrassing losses in recent history at this tournament. It’s just the second time Canada lost to France, the last coming in regulation in 1995.

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The two latest matchups between these teams at the IIHF World Hockey Championship ended in 7-2 and 9-1 victories for Canada in 2012 and 2011, respectively. Canada entered the 2014 tournament 8-1 all-time against France.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored the shootout-winner for France.

Stephane Da Costa, a part-timer with the Ottawa Senators, had each of France’s regulation power-play goals.

Brayden Schenn and Erik Gudbranson scored for Canada.

Former NHL goaltender Cristobal Huet shined in net for France. James Reimer was saddled with the loss for Canada.

Reimer was tested plenty in the early going, stopping a point-blank attempt from Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel short-handed three minutes in and turning French captain Laurent Meunier away a bit later. His best save of the first period came at the 11-minute mark on Da Costa’s big windup from the right faceoff circle.

Da Costa broke through near the end of the period with Canada’s Alex Burrows in the penalty box for tripping. After defenceman Yohann Auvitu’s point shot hit Reimer in the pads, the puck bounced out to the Ottawa Senators minor-leaguer, who snapped it in at the 17:03 mark to give France a 1-0 lead.

It didn’t take long for Canada to respond. Nathan MacKinnon drew a hooking penalty on Meunier with 35.4 seconds left in the first period, then Cody Hodgson fed Schenn for a power-play goal with 16.2 left to tie it.

Canada came close to taking the lead a couple of times in the second period, no closer than when Morgan Rielly got a shot off from the right faceoff circle that Huet snagged with his glove at 11:46.

Turnovers by young defencemen Tyler Myers and Erik Gudbranson brought some danger for Canada, but each time Reimer was challenged he came up big. With the seconds ticking away before intermission, Reimer made a big stop on Bellemare to get through the first 39 seconds of a five-on-three penalty kill.

Canada killed off the remaining 28 seconds of the five-on-three early in the second before Troy Brouwer took another slashing penalty just 11 seconds later.

Gudbranson gave Canada the lead 10:42 into the third period on a goal that was confirmed by video review. Gudbranson’s shot from between the faceoff circles hit the left post and went in off Huet.

Da Costa scored again for France at 13:35, lifting a backhander over a sprawling Reimer to ignite cheers from an anti-Canada, pro-underdog France crowd at Chizhovka-Arena. It was a power-play goal as Jason Garrison was off for slashing.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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