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Rangers forward Marian Gaborik
and his Slovak teammates suffered a setback at the IIHF World Championship tournament in Bratislava on Sunday, as the host nation fell to Germany 4-3 in preliminary-round action.
Germany had surged out to a 4-0 lead early in the third period before the Slovaks rallied for three goals in the final 14:34. Former NHL stars Ladislav Nagy, Jozef Stumpel and Pavol Demitra scored for Slovakia, which outshot Germany 38-29 but struggled to beat German goalie Dimitri Patzold, who had a brief NHL career with San Jose.
Patzold was the difference, as he finished with 35 saves in his 2011 World Championship debut.
The Slovaks outshot the Germans 11-7 in the first period, but Patzold made all 11 stops to keep the hosts scoreless. Jaroslav Halak of the St. Louis Blues was also perfect for Slovakia with seven saves in the first period.
Gaborik, playing on his nation's second line with Michal Handzus of the Los Angeles Kings and former Rangers forward Marcel Hossa, had two shots in 6:27 of first-period ice time. He ended the game with a team-high eight shots on goal in 19:04 of ice time.
Gaborik saw plenty of action in the third period, picking up five of his game-high eight shots and seeing 7:32 of ice time over the final 20 minutes. He was a big part of the late Slovak surge, although he did not have any points in the game.
Germany broke through for the game's first goal at 4:51 of the second period, when Marcel Muller scored for a 1-0 lead. The Germans stretched it to 2-0 at 13:07 of the second, getting a goal from former NHLer John Tripp. Just over three minutes later, it was a 3-0 lead for Germany on a third straight even-strength goal by Frank Hordler.
The Germans outshot the Slovaks 16-8 in the second period and had a 23-19 shots advantage through 40 minutes. Gaborik contributed on of Slovakia's eight shots in 5:05 of ice time in the second period.
Continuing to dominate in the early stages of the third period, the Germans made it 4-0 on a pretty goal by Felix Schutz at 4:37 of the third period. Schutz scored off a brilliant backhand pass from Tripp.
Slovakia finally solved Patzold and cut the lead to 4-1 at 5:26 of the third, as Nagy converted a centering pass from Lubos Bartecko.
Slovakia continued its surge by cutting the lead to 4-2 on a power-play goal by Stumpel at 7:49 of the third. The goal was assisted by Nagy and Miroslav Satan.
The Slovaks quickly returned to the man-advantage at 8:27 of the third when Schutz went off for shooting the puck over the glass. Gaborik played a big role in the power play, getting some scoring chances that were broken up by desperate German penalty-killers.
Slovakia continued to enjoy a power play after the Schutz penalty was killed, because the Germans were called for having twoo many men on the ice just 13 seconds after Schutz returned.
Three seconds after time expired in the penalty, the Slovaks cut the lead to 4-3 when Demitra scored on the rebound of a shot from the high slot by Marian Hossa, backhanding the puck into a wide-open net at 12:43 of the third.
The Slovaks applied heavy pressure over the final minutes, taking a timeout and then pulling Halak with 1:33 to go and a faceoff in the German zone. Gaborik remained on the ice for the final 93 seconds and set up a late scoring chance for Handzus that Patzold was able to stop.
Germany held on for the victory, improving to 2-0 in the preliminary round, while Slovakia is now 1-1 heading into a game against Russia on Tuesday.