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game recap

Slovakia's win is one for the ages

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Slovakia's win is one for the ages
Slovakia 4, Sweden 3
VANCOUVER -- Pavol Demitra called it the biggest win in Slovakia's ice hockey history and it's hard to disagree with him.

Hours after Canada steamrolled the Russians here at Canada Hockey Place to earn a berth in the semifinals, Slovakia stunned Sweden, 4-3, winning the right to try to take down the big bad Canadians on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET.

No matter the outcome, the Slovaks have already had their best Olympics ever. Their previous best was four years ago in Torino when they finished fifth after coming in 13th at Salt Lake in 2002.

"We've got nothing to lose," Tomas Kopecky, who scored the winning goal with 10:59 left in the third period, told NHL.com. "They are the favorites. We're just going to play a solid hockey game and that's how we're going to win."

The Slovaks didn't make their way to the international ice hockey stage until 1994, one year after the breakup of Czechoslovakia. That year they finished 21st in the World Championships and sixth in the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

They improved in each of the next seven years and finally peaked in 2002 by winning gold at the IIHF World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. Six players from that team played in Wednesday night's game.

"We know we can play," Demitra, who had a goal and two assists, told NHL.com. "Obviously it's the biggest win for our country ever, and we're having a great time. We have a group of guys that this will be the last time we play together ever, so we're enjoying it and we're working hard for each other."

Slovakia staggered to a 4-3 win as the favorite in Tuesday night's qualification round game against upstart Norway. Marian Hossa told NHL.com afterward that he felt Slovakia would be better against Sweden because it would be the underdog and could go back to playing a more structured, disciplined game.

That's precisely what happened.

Slovakia managed only seven shots on goal over the final two periods, but four of them beat Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Slovaks had only 14 shots for the game while Jaroslav Halak stopped 26 of 29 from Sweden.

"We are a very disciplined team defensively," Marian Gaborik told NHL.com. "I think it was a tight game overall, Halak was great in net and we got the edge on Lundqvist. It's a big game for us. Huge."

Gaborik scored on a low, sliding one-timer 7:34 into the second period to give Slovakia a 1-0 lead. Less than a minute later, Andrej Sekera finished off a 2-on-1 with Richard Zednik with a slam dunk goal to make it 2-0.

Sweden came back to get a pair from Patric Hornqvist and Henrik Zetterberg just 37 seconds apart, but Demitra staked Slovakia to a 3-2 lead by wiring his blistering slap shot from the left circle into the top right corner of the net for a power-play goal with 48 seconds left in the second period.

Michal Handzus took Sweden defenseman Mattias Ohlund to the front of the net and Lundqvist told NHL.com he couldn't see the puck coming off Demitra's stick between the two big bodies in front of him.

"And he just took a perfect shot," Lundqvist said.

"When (Handzus) is in front there, he knows what he's doing," Demitra added. "He put a great screen for me and I just let it go. It somehow found the right corner."

Demitra helped set up Kopecky's winning goal by racing out for a 2-on-1 with Marian Hossa. As he saucered the pass across to Hossa, Kopecky filled the middle lane. Lundqvist came out to play the puck, but it stayed free in the slot and Kopecky was there to bang it in, giving Slovakia a 4-2 lead.

"I knew Pavol was going to pass it to Marian and I was just hoping there would be a loose puck, a rebound," Kopecky said. "I went to the net hard, stopped in front and that's how you get the goals.

"It's really exciting. It was unbelievable."

Sweden answered Kopecky's goal 38 seconds later when Daniel Alfredsson finished off a gorgeous behind-the-net pass from Nicklas Backstrom. However, Slovakia never panicked, kept playing its defensive game and stayed out of the penalty box to preserve the lead and the win.

"We did everything we were talking about doing before the game," Gaborik said. "There was a system, being disciplined, being on the puck and winning the battles. We did all of that and Halak was great in net. I'm proud of these guys."

The Slovaks now have every reason to believe they can beat Canada, too. They already took down Russia in a shootout during the preliminary round and they just sent the defending gold medalists packing, too.

"We have to play the same way we did (Wednesday)," Gaborik said. "This was an unbelievable game from everybody."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


GAME SUMMARY

SCORING
SVK 0 3 1 - 4
SWE 0 2 1 - 3

First Period

No Scoring

Penalties - Pahlsson SWE (roughing) 9:31, Zednik SVK (interference) 10:22, Johansson SWE (tripping) 11:36, Tallinder (hooking) 16:04.

Second Period

1. SVK, Gaborik (Hossa, Demitra) 7:34 (PPG)

2. SVK, Sekera (Zednik, Palffy) 8:11

3. SWE, Hornqvist (Forsberg) 13:49

4. SWE, Zetterberg (Enstrom) 14:26

5. SVK, Demitra (Chara, Marian Hossa) 19:12 (PPG)

Penalties - SWE (too many players on the ice) 6:19, Enstrom SWE (tripping) 18:19, Cibak SVK (tripping) 19:33. 

Third Period

6. SVK, Kopecky (Marian Hossa, Demitra) 9:01

7. SWE, Alfredsson (Backstrom, Eriksson) 9:39

Penalties - Gaborik SVK (roughing) 2:41.

SHOTS ON GOAL
SVK  7  4  3 - 14
SWE  7 12 10 - 29

Goaltenders (goals-shots against) - SVK: Halak (W, 3-29); SWE: Lundqvist (L, 4-14).

Power plays (goals-chances) - SVK: 2-5; SWE: 0-3.









Slovakia
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
61 M. Bartovic 6'0" 194 4/9/1981 Trencin, SVK
26 M. Handzus CHI 6'5" 215 3/11/1977 Banska Bystrika, SVK
88 Marcel Hossa 6'2" 218 10/12/1981 Ilava, SVK
81 Marian Hossa CHI 6'1" 210 1/12/1979 Stará Lubovna, SVK
13 T. Jurco DET 6'2" 193 12/28/1992 Kosice, SVK
82 T. Kopecky FLA 6'3" 203 2/5/1982 Ilava, SVK
65 T. Marcinko 6'4" 207 4/11/1988 Poprad, SVK
91 M. Miklik 6'0" 198 7/31/1982 Piestany, SVK
85 P. Ölvecky 6'2" 214 10/11/1985 Nove Zamky, SVK
28 R. Panik TBL 6'1" 208 2/7/1991 Martin, SVK
92 B. Radivojevic 6'0" 207 11/24/1980 Piešťany, SVK
43 T. Surovy 6'1" 216 9/24/1981 Banska Bystrica, SVK
90 T. Tatar DET 5'10" 186 12/1/1990 Ilava, SVK
67 T. Zaborsky 5'11" 201 11/14/1987 Trencin, SVK
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
7 I. Baranka 6'2" 203 5/19/1985 Ilava, SVK
33 Z. Chara BOS 6'9" 255 3/18/1977 Trencin, SVK
68 M. Jurcina 6'4" 251 6/7/1983 Liptovský Mikuláš, SVK
52 M. Marincin EDM 6'4" 188 2/18/1992 Kosice, SVK
14 A. Meszaros PHI 6'2" 223 10/13/1985 Považská Bystrica, SVK
44 A. Sekera CAR 6'0" 201 6/8/1986 Bojnice, SVK
19 T. Starosta 6'0" 196 5/20/1981 Trencin, SVK
23 R. Vydareny 6'1" 203 5/6/1981 Bratislava, SVK
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
31 P. Budaj MTL 6'1" 192 9/18/1982 Banska Bystrika, SVK
41 J. Halak STL 5'10" 186 5/13/1985 Bratislava, SVK
250 J. Laco 5'11" 183 12/1/1981 Liptovsky Mikulas, SVK
Sweden
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
11 D. Alfredsson DET 5'11" 203 12/11/1972 Gothenburg, SWE
19 N. Bäckström WSH 6'1" 208 11/23/1987 Gävle, SWE
14 P. Berglund STL 6'3" 217 6/2/1988 Västerås, SWE
42 J. Ericsson 6'2" 212 2/22/1980 Skellefteå, SWE
21 L. Eriksson BOS 6'2" 196 7/17/1985 Goteborg, SWE
62 C. Hagelin NYR 5'11" 186 8/23/1988 Sodertalje, SWE
90 M. Johansson WSH 6'1" 205 10/6/1990 Landskrona, SWE
16 M. Krüger CHI 6'0" 181 5/27/1990 Stockholm, SWE
92 G. Landeskog COL 6'1" 204 11/23/1992 Stockholm, SWE
41 G. Nyquist DET 5'11" 185 9/1/1989 Halmstad, SWE
22 D. Sedin VAN 6'1" 187 9/26/1980 Ornskoldsvik, SWE
18 J. Silfverberg ANA 6'1" 200 10/13/1990 Gävle, SWE
20 A. Steen STL 5'11" 212 3/1/1984 Winnipeg, MB
40 H. Zetterberg DET 5'11" 197 10/9/1980 Njurunda, SWE
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
23 A. Edler VAN 6'3" 215 4/21/1986 Ostersund, SWE
3 O. Ekman-Larsson PHX 6'2" 190 7/17/1991 Karlskrona, SWE
52 J. Ericsson DET 6'4" 221 3/2/1984 Karlskrona, SWE
4 N. Hjalmarsson CHI 6'3" 207 6/6/1987 Eksjo, SWE
65 E. Karlsson OTT 6'0" 180 5/31/1990 Landsbro, SWE
55 N. Kronwall DET 6'0" 190 1/12/1981 Stockholm, SWE
27 J. Oduya CHI 6'0" 190 10/1/1981 Stockholm, SWE
7 H. Tallinder BUF 6'4" 209 1/10/1979 Stockholm, SWE
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
1 J. Enroth BUF 5'10" 166 6/25/1988 Stockholm, SWE
50 J. Gustavsson DET 6'3" 192 10/24/1984 Danderyd, SWE
30 H. Lundqvist NYR 6'1" 188 3/2/1982 Are, SWE