After losing their opener 5-3 to defending champion Canada, the Germans have now won two straight games. The French fell short after collecting their first three points with a 2-1 win over Kazakhstan on Sunday.
"We had a pretty good start," said Germany's Matthias Plachta. "We scored on our first power play right away, which gave us momentum. In the second period, we were a little slow at times when they picked up the pace. But at the end, we played solid hockey to win."
Daniel Fischbusch and Alexander Ehl had their first World Championship goals ever for Germany. Marc Michaelis added a pair of assists.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Germany. Tim Stutzle, the 20-year-old offensive star from the Ottawa Senators, went off with an apparent left knee injury in the first period and did not return.
"A player like him you always miss," Pfoderl said. "I hope it’s not too bad. I hope he’s back the next game. He’s a big player for us. He’s a creative player who leads our first line."
Meanwhile, Alexandre Texier stayed hot for France. The 22-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets forward scored for the second straight game despite the loss. Hugo Gallet had France's other goal.
"Of course, we're disappointed," said Gallet. "We know every game we need to bring our A game and work harder than the other team. I think we did that a lot tonight, but it's too bad we didn't come out with the win. Congrats to Germany, but it was a good game."
The Germans outshot France 29-14 and were full value for this hard-working, gritty win. In net, both Germany's Mathias Niederberger and France's Sebastian Ylonen saw their first action of the tournament.
Germany, which finished an impressive fourth at last year’s Worlds in Latvia, is looking to capture its first IIHF medal since the 2018 Olympic silver medal in Korea.
It took just 2:04 for Fischbuch to draw first blood. With the Germans forechecking effectively, Pfoderl slid the puck cross-ice to a wide-open Fischbuch at the hash marks. He had plenty of time to cue up his shot, and flung a wrister past Ylonen’s blocker.
A bit over a minute later, Stefan Loibl got a clearcut breakaway, but Ylonen foiled the Skelleftea AIK forward with the glove when he went to the backhand in tight.
The French got on the board with their second man advantage.With Stutzle penalized for slashing, Texier came off the half-wall to one-time home a great diagonal feed from Tim Bozon at 14:48.
"Everybody was competing, playing hard, on the edge, but that's what makes it fun," said Plachta. "You expect that at the World Championships."
At 17:51, Ehl restored Germany’s lead on the rush. In quick transition, defenceman Dominik Bittner jumped in over the blue line and fired a shot that deflected off Ehl and fooled Ylonen, trickling past the goalie’s left skate.
In the first minute of the second period, Germany came close. Michaelis attempted a wraparound, forcing Ylonen to stretch out his left pad to the post. A lengthy video review took place, and it was determined that the puck did not cross the line.
Undaunted, the French persevered and made it 2-2 at 11:18 off the rush. In the neutral zone, Valentin Claireaux took a hit to get the puck to Charles Bertrand, who sent it through Bittner's legs for Gallet to tip past Niederberger.
Gallet spoke highly of Bertrand: "It’s good and he’s big for the team. He played in Finland before. It’s great to have guys who have played the Worlds before and know how to play here."
Even Niederberger complimented his opponents: "They played very well defensively and created their share of opportunities. When they moved to offence, they were fast and smart. They had a great power play."
At 5:45 of the third period, Germany went up 3-2 on a play not unlike Gallet's goal. Heads up all the way, assistant captain Marcel Noebels picked up the puck in the neutral zone and waited as Pfoderl barged to the net. Noebels timed the pass perfectly for Pfoderl, his teammate with Eisbaren Berlin, to tip it home.
With just over five minutes left, Ylonen slid over to stone an oncoming Samuel Soramies in close and give his team a chance to come back. But despite some decent offensive zone pressure after pulling Ylonen for a sixth attacker at 17:31, France simply ran out of time.
"In the end, I was able to see the puck really well," Niederberger said. "The guys cleared the front very well, and that made it easier for me to control the puck."
"We are here to battle every game and give ourselves a chance to win," Gallet said. "We go game by game and do our best to show that we belong."
France and Germany have a long, hard-fought history at this tournament. In their first IIHF game ever, the Germans blanked the French 4-0 in 1934 en route to a bronze medal in Milan, Italy.
Prior to Germany’s 4-1 win at the 2019 Worlds in Kosice, Slovakia, the previous four games were all decided by one goal, each nation winning twice.
With the result, Germany’s record against France improves to six wins and six losses in 12 all-time Worlds meetings.