The Tampa Bay Lightning had an uneventful day at the World Junior Championships on Friday, being held in Buffalo, New York. Team Canada, with two players of Lightning property, fell in a shootout to Sweden, 6-5, while Team Slovakia, also with two Tampa Bay players, was shutout 6-0 by Finland.
Despite a pair of goals from Curtis Hamilton, Canada’s loss sent them to the quarterfinals which will be played tomorrow. Sweden, meanwhile, moved on to the semifinals to be played January 3. It was Canada’s first loss in the Preliminary Round since Dec. 29, 2007, when Sweden also won, 4-3.
Both Canada and Sweden scored early and often, with the game’s first period serving as a preview of what was to come in the remaining two periods. Canada’s Sean Couturier broke a brief scoreless tie just 58 seconds into the game to make it 1-0 before Sweden responded with a pair of unanswered goals to take a one-goal lead with five minutes remaining in the opening period. The small time frame remaining, however, was just enough for the Canadians to answer back, as Quinton Howden scored and Hamilton put in his first of the night to make it 3-2 after 20 minutes.
The clubs then alternated two goals apiece, with Sweden’s Patrick Cehlin netting the game-tying goal with about eight minutes to go that not only negated Canada’s 5-4 lead late in the contest, but also sent it to the extra period where goals by Oscar Lindberg and Anton Lander won the game for the Swedes.
Lightning prospects Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly were each held without a point, while both players recorded one shot on goal.
Their future Tampa Bay teammates, Slovakia’s Adam Janosik and Richard Panik, did not fair much better, as their squad lost for the third straight time.
Finland got all the goals it needed within the first 40 minutes, scoring three times in each of the first two periods before enduring a scoreless third. Panik led Slovakia with a team-high three shots, but couldn’t connect as he and his team will now play in the Relegation Round for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.
With all teams on a break to enjoy the New Year, play will resume Sunday with Canada taking on Switzerland in the first quarterfinal matchup and Slovakia battling Norway.