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Team North America loses exhibition finale to Czechs

Despite a 44-29 advantage in shots on goal and heavy pressure throughout the game, Team North America suffered its first loss in World Cup of Hockey exhibition play Wednesday with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Team Czech Republic in Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center.

Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec scored the game-winning goal with 8:10 left, snapping a 2-2 tie that was forged just 53 second earlier on a goal by Toronto's Auston Matthews.

Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel played 18 minutes, 18 seconds in the game and did not register a point. He had just one shot on goal while playing mostly wing on a line with Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau. Eichel had two assists in the three exhibition games at Team North America went 2-1.

Edmonton center Connor McDavid played 20:36 and had four shots on goal but finished pointless for the third straight game. Gaudreau led Team North America with five points in exhibition play.

Former Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth played the first 30 minutes for the Czechs and stopped all 25 shots he faced while Detroit's Petr Mrazek stopped 17 of 19. Pittsburgh's Matt Murray played 40 minutes for Team North America and gave up one goal on 17 shots.

The Czechs opened the scoring with a power play goal by Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat at 10:08 of the first period and the lead held up through 40 minutes. Dallas Radek Faksa extended the lead to 2-0 by beating Winnipeg's Connor Hellebuyck at 7:16 of the third.

Team North America then rallied as Philadelphia's Shayne Gostisbehere scored at 8:58 and Matthews, the No. 1 overall pick in June, scored his first goal in exhibition play at 10:57 to make the score 2-2.

Team North America headed to Toronto immediately after the game for practice and Media Day activities slated for Thursday. It will open the tournament against Finland Sunday night at 8 in Air Canada Centre.

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