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Canada rallies to defeat Slovakia, 6-3

by Mike G. Morreale

The Canadian National Junior Team rallied from a two-goal deficit despite the absence of two players ejected from the game en route to a 6-3 victory over Slovakia on Friday at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

After spotting the Slovaks a 3-1 lead when Marko Dano scored his second of the game at the 10:35 mark of the second, Canada connected for five straight goals. Mark Scheifele's goal with just 59 seconds remaining in the second gave Canada its first lead, 4-3. Scheifele was named Canada's player of the game.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome, who connected for a pair of goals, completed the scoring in the third. Defenseman Morgan Rielly finished with a goal and two assists for Canada.

Canada goalie Malcolm Subban finished with 25 saves on 28 shots.

The victory gives Canada two victories and six points in two games in the Group B field. The country will next face the United States on Sunday.

Making the comeback somewhat more extraordinary was the fact Canada was playing with only 10 forwards in the lineup since J.C. Lipon and Anthony Camara were ejected on two separate infractions. Lipon was given a game misconduct for a check to the head at 13:39 of the first. Camara was also thrown out of the game after being whistled for a charging penalty on defenseman Patrik Luza at 6:21 of the second.

Camara's hit on Luza, whose head was down while playing the puck in his zone, left the Slovak motionless for a few seconds before he was carted off on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital for precautionary measures. Reports are that Luza was moving on his own.

A tripping penalty to Canada's Strome, who had pulled his country within 2-1 just 2:16 into the second, would ultimately give Slovakia a two-man advantage for 1:32. Dano would connect for his second of the contest on the 5-on-3 advantage.

Dano and Richard Buri would take penalties 18 seconds apart less than a minute later to give Canada a 5-on-3 advantage. Rielly ripped a shot from the left circle that deflected off the right hip of Slovakia's Branislav Rapac and past goalie Adam Nagy on the short side at 11:42.

Canada would pull into a 3-3 tie at 15:18 on a power-play goal by Ty Rattie off assists from Ouellet and Rielly. Canada would close out the scoring in the second when Scheifele was credited with his third of the tournament.

The Slovaks, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Russia on Wednesday, opened a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Dano, who was named Slovakia's player of the game, opened the scoring when he jammed home a shot past goalie Subban from in the crease 2:53 into the first. Dano fought off a check from Brett Ritchie in the slot before receiving a pass from Matus Matis and sliding home his first goal of the tournament.

The Slovaks outshot Canada, 11-5, in the opening 20 minutes.

Tomas Mikus gave Slovakia a 1-0 edge 15:28 into the first on a power-play goal. Lipon was whistled for a major penalty for checking to the head of Slovakia's Tomas Mikus, in addition to being given a game misconduct at 13:39. Just 1:49 into the advantage, Martin Reway curled the Canadian net and found Mikus alone in the left circle. Mikus gathered the puck and ripped a shot top shelf over the blocker of Subban.

Slovakian goalie Adam Nagy, who finished with 24 saves, needed only five blocks in the first as the trapping Slovaks kept Canada at bay.

Canada is 8-0-1 all-time against Slovakia at the WJC.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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