Canadian captain Ryan Getzlaf ripped a slap shot past Tobias Stephan just before the midway point of the third period to give Canada a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Switzerland on Wednesday at the IIHF World Championship in Helsinki, another tight win over an unheralded team that has given them trouble over the years.
Switzerland began to apply pressure on the Canadians in the third, but it was Getzlaf who got the winner, firing a shot past Stephan as he sped down the right side. With Jamie Benn racing down the other wing, Getzlaf simply wound up and rocketed a hard shot to earn his first goal of the tournament.
Cam Ward, who finished the game with 28 saves, held on from there to earn a hard-fought victory in which Canada's power play went 0-for-4 in the game. The Canadians have now gone just 2-for-12 in the tournament with the man advantage.
After needing a late Jordan Eberle goal to avoid losing to the Swiss in exhibition play before the tournament began, Canada again ran into trouble early against an underdog hockey nation that gave them fits in the preliminary round of the 2010 Olympic Games. In Vancouver, Canada again needed a shootout to earn a 3-2 win over Switzerland, which beat the Canadians at the World Championship that summer -- their only victory over Canada at the tournament.
This time, Canada fell behind early when Damien Brunner beat Ward just 1:40 into the game, finishing off a perfect pass from Goran Bezina. Despite being outshot 13-8 in the first period, Switzerland led 1-0 after 20 minutes, but the line of John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, and Jeff Skinner began to dominate in the second.
Just 35 seconds into the period, all three forwards crashed the Swiss net following a point shot from Marc Methot and Tavares was able to find the back of the net, tying the game with his second goal of the tournament.
Like they did in the second, that youthful line responded quickly in the third period when Tavares' forecheck caused a turnover behind the Swiss net, leading directly to Eberle's go-ahead marker just 41 seconds into the final frame. But the Swiss responded swiftly, getting a power-play goal from Bezina following a slashing penalty to Canadian defenseman Kyle Quincey, who joined the team just three days ago after Marc-Edouard Vlasic was lost with a lower-body injury.
Canada's schedule will only get more difficult as the tournament progresses. They enjoy a day off Thursday before playing tournament co-host and defending champion Finland on Friday. Switzerland next plays France on Saturday.
Slovakia 4, Kazakhstan 2
Tomas Kopecky scored his first two goals of the tournament, including the game-winner, to give Slovakia their second straight victory after starting out with consecutive losses.
Kazakhstan came out strong in the third period, tying the score 2-2 on Konstantin Pushkaryov's marker at the 3:15 mark. But the Slovakians controlled the pace from there, leading to Kopecky's first goal, a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. The Florida Panthers winger closed out the game near the end of the period, scoring his second of the game with just 13 seconds remaining in the third following a too-many-men penalty to Kazakhstan, which has now lost its first four games.
The Slovakians appeared to be well on their way to a victory when Dominik Granak opened the scoring just 1:18 into the game, taking a pretty Miroslav Satan pass from behind the net and beating Vitali Yeremeyev. But Yevgeny Rymarev replied for Kazakhstan later in the period when he tucked the puck around the right post from behind the Slovakian goal, fooling goalie Jan Laco.
The Slovaks would take control in the second, outshooting the Kazakhs 11-5. But despite the shot discrepancy, the Slovaks could only muster Libor Hudacek's power-play goal with 2:11 remaining in the period, which gave them a 2-1 lead.
Slovakia will look to make it three straight wins on Saturday against Belarus.
Norway 6, Italy 2
Patrick Thoresen and Per-Age Skroder both recorded a goal and two assists as Norway routed Italy to earn their first victory. The six goals were the same number Norway had scored in their first three games combined and allowed the team to move out of last place in their group ahead of Denmark, Italy, and Germany.
Following a disappointing 4-3 shootout loss to the Czechs on Monday, Norway came out flying against an Italian team coming off a 5-0 loss to Latvia. But despite outshooting Italy 12-5 in the opening period, the Norwegians only led 2-1, thanks to the first goals of the tournament for Thoresen and Mats Trygg. Norway would take control in the second, firing 14 shots and scoring twice against Italian goaltender Daniel Bellissimo, who finished the game with 33 saves.
Trygg would score his second of the game with teammate Mathis Olimb off for tripping and Skroder would seal the win later in the period with a power-play goal, Norway's second of the game.
Sweden 5, Germany 2
Henrik Zetterberg assisted on two of Sweden's goals, including Erik Karlsson's game-winner, and Loui Eriksson regained the tournament scoring lead as the host nation Swedes remained undefeated following an easy win over Germany.
The Swedes overmatched Germany for most of the game and it appeared they might earn an easy victory when Marcus Kruger put a pass from Gabriel Landeskog behind German keeper Dennis Endras just 1:17 into the game. Germany unexpectedly got back into the game when Philip Gogulla took Kai Hospelt's pass from behind the Swedish net, beating Viktor Fasth with just one second remaining in the period.
Perhaps awakened by the late German goal, Sweden stormed out of the gates in the second, overwhelming Endras with shots before Viktor Stalberg gave Sweden the lead with his third goal of the World Championship, tying him with seven other players for the tournament lead.
Sweden padded that lead just 96 seconds later with Nikolai Goc serving a hooking penalty for Germany. Zetterberg fed Karlsson at the right point before the Norris Trophy candidate fired a rising shot into Germany's net. Loui Eriksson's assist on the power-play marker gave the Stars winger seven points for the tournament, moving him past Evgeni Malkin for sole possession of the tournament lead.
Patrick Reimer would score for Germany before the end of the second period, but Niklas Persson and Johan Franzen replied in the third period for Sweden, which outshot the Germans by a 45-17 margin in front of their home crowd.
Sweden will next face Russia on Friday in what could be a battle of undefeated teams. The Russians are currently 3-0 in the tournament and will face Denmark on Thursday.
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