By Mike G. Morreale – NHL.com Staff Writer
Nicolas Petan scored two goals in the third period, including one into an empty net, to rally the Canadian National Junior Team to a 5-3 victory over Slovakia in preliminary round action of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.
After spotting Slovakia a 3-1 lead in the second, the Canadians roared back to score four unanswered goals to earn their second win in the Group A field. Canada will conclude play in Group A against the United States on New Year’s Eve at 11:30 a.m. ET (NHLN-US, NHL.com). Slovakia will meet Czech Republic in its final preliminary-round match on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. ET.
The game was eerily reminiscent to the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia, when Slovakia also opened a 3-1 lead before Canada rallied for five straight to earn a 6-3 victory in preliminary-round play.
Petan’s game-winner came on the power-play at 17:14 to give Canada its first lead, 4-3. Anthony Mantha, who was named Canada’s player of the game, had one goal and three assists. Petan scored into an empty net with 1:21 remaining to seal the contest. Canada outshot the game Slovaks, 49-22, including a 15-4 margin in the third.
Petan, who has 20 goals and 66 points in 32 games for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League this season, was a second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2013.
Petan, a North Delta native, played his minor hockey at the North Shore Winter Club, and was a captain of the Bantam A1 team in 2009-2010. He scored 76 goals with 63 assists in 57 games in PCAHA play and led the club to a fourth-place finish in the Western Canada bantam championships.
Canadian goalie Zachary Fucale, who was making his WJC debut, made 19 saves.
Slovakia, which has scored seven of 15 goals in the tournament via the power play, went 3-for-6 with the man advantage against Canada. The country also received some solid goaltending from Samuel Baros (44 saves), who was named Slovakia’s player of the game.
Jonathan Drouin pulled his country into a 3-3 tie in the third when he collected a pass from Mantha in the slot and ripped home a shot at 14:02. Mantha did a great job to force a turnover behind the Slovak cage when he took the puck away from defenseman Erik Cernak before spotting Drouin cruising down the slot. Drouin made no mistake in notching his second of the tournament.
Canada pulled within 3-2 in the second when Mantha scored his fourth of the tournament. Drouin skated into the Slovak end and circled in the zone before feeding Aaron Ekblad at the right point. Ekblad, an A-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s December players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft, skated to the center point and drove a shot that rebounded to Mantha in front. The first-round pick of theDetroit Red Wings had his initial shot stopped, but he alertly jabbed in the rebound at 17:00.
The Slovaks had taken a 3-1 lead in the second on a pair of power-play goals.
Martin Reway ripped home his fourth of the tournament from the left hash over the shoulder of Fucale during a 5-on-3 advantage at 7:07 with Petan (holding) and Scott Laughton (high sticking) in the box.
Fucale would come up big a little over three minutes later when Filip Mlyncar broke in one-on-one after blocking a right point shot attempt by Chris Bigras and turning the quick transition. Mlyncar’s high shot from the left circle was snared by Fucale with his left glove.
Penalties to Matt Dumba (tripping) and Derrick Pouliot (slashing) gave Slovakia another 5-on-3 advantage for 57 seconds at 11:31 of the second. Just five seconds after Dumba’s penalty expired, David Griger ripped a shot home off assists from Reway and Milan Kolena.
After allowing the opening goal of the game for the third straight time in the tournament, Canada pulled even when Curtis Lazar, who has arguably been Canada’s best player, scored a power-play goal at 18:12. Mantha and Petan assisted on Lazar’s first of the tournament.
The Canadians found themselves shorthanded almost immediately after the opening faceoff when Drouin was assessed two minutes for checking to the head of Reway just 10 seconds into the game. Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, was also given a 10-minute misconduct, forcing coach Brent Sutter to shuffle the lineup.
With Drouin in the penalty box, Sutter opted to us Lazar on the top line with Charles Hudon and Mantha. The Slovaks would take a 1-0 lead at 1:40, however, when Griger gathered a pass off the end boards at the bottom of the left circle before sweeping a shot through the legs of defenseman Dumba and past Fucale on the short side on the power play. Jakub Predajniansky took the initial shot from the right point that banked off the boards behind Fucale right to Griger.
Despite allowing the early goal, Fucale did show good composure in making eight saves. Slovakia’s Baros made 20 saves in the opening 20 minutes.
Finland 4, Russia 1 — Saku Maenalanen, Joni Nikko, Rasmus Kulmala and Henrik Haapala scored to rally Finland to a win over previously unbeaten Russia in preliminary-round action of the Group B field at Malmo Arena.
Juuse Saros, a fourth-round pick of the Nashville Predators last June, made 28 saves, including 17 over the final two periods to give Finland (two wins, one loss, six points) a share of second place with Russia (two wins, one loss, six points) in the Group B standings.
Finland will conclude preliminary round play on New Year’s Eve against Switzerland at 12 p.m. ET. Russia also closes out pool play Tuesday against host Sweden (three wins, nine points) at 8 a.m. ET.
Maenalanen squared the game in the second on a power-play goal at 2:21 before Haapala and Kulmala scored even-strength goals at 10:20 and 15:07, respectively. Nikko closed out the scoring with a power-play goal in the third at 7:39.
Germany 3, Czech Republic 0 — Frederik Tiffels scored a pair of goals and added an assist and Marvin Cupper made 40 saves as Germany earned its first victory at the Malmo Isstadion.
Tiffels, who plays for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League, gave Germany a 1-0 lead 14:25 into the first period when he lifted the puck past Marek Langhamer at the post. His second goal, which came on the power play, gave his country a 3-0 lead 17:51 into the second on a quick wrist shot just over the blue line.
Germany entered the game having lost three previous games in the tournament by a 24-4 margin.
In 10 previous losses against the Czech Republic, which upset Canada in a shootout on Saturday, the Germans were outscored 69-18. Cupper made a few highlight-reel stops in the third when the Czechs pressured often, but the 19-year-old left-hander stopped all 19 shots in his direction.
“The shutout speaks for the team,” Cupper told the IIHF website. “We tried to skate a lot more than we did [in an 8-0 loss to the United States on Sunday]. The U.S. is a little better than the Czech Republic, but we skated better and followed the coach’s plan better.”
German alternate captain Dominik Kahun had a goal and an assist and won 69 percent of his faceoffs (18 of 26). Markus Eisenschmid won 15 of 23 draws (65 percent) in the win, which moved Germany into fourth place in Group A with three points. The Czechs, who have one preliminary-round match remaining against Slovakia on Tuesday, are in fifth with two points.
Germany, which was playing with only 17 skaters because of injury and suspension, has concluded play in the preliminary round and will need to await the result of Tuesday’s Czech Republic-Slovakia game to determine whether or not it advances to the medal round.
“We feel like we’re a team now,” Tiffels said. “Everyone contributed. Everyone blocked a shot or made a big hit.”
German captain Leon Draisaitl was given a match penalty for a hit from behind on Andrew Copp of the United States on Sunday. That infraction carried an automatic one-game suspension but he is eligible to return to the lineup for Germany’s next game. Draisaitl is an A-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s December players to watch list for the 2014 draft.