Canada erases 2-goal deficit to beat Slovakia at world juniors
Nic Petan scores twice in 5-3 comeback win
Nic Petan scored twice, including the winning goal, as Canada fought back from a 3-1 deficit to earn a 5-3 victory over Slovakia at the world junior hockey championship on Monday in Malmo, Sweden.
Slovakia jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period on two goals from David Griger and another from Martin Reway.
Canada answered on goals from Curtis Lazar, Anthony Mantha, Jonathan Drouin and Petan.
Canada is 8-0-1 against Slovakia all-time at the world juniors. … Forward Charles Hudon was helped off with what looked
like a shoulder problem 13 seconds into the third period after a hit into the end boards, but returned later in the period. Canadian head coach Brent Sutter said he is not injured. …Canada will have defenceman Griffin Reinhart back against the Americans after serving the last of his four-game suspension incurred at last year's world juniors.
— The Canadian Press
Zachary Fucale made his first start of the tournament for the Canadians, stopping 19 of 22 shots.
Monday's win left Canada (2-0-1) two points behind the United States (3-0-0) heading into a showdown for first place in the last preliminary round game for both squads on Tuesday (11:30 a.m. ET).
Sutter indicated Fucale would be in net.
It was a breakout game on Monday for Petan and Lazar, who have struggled on the attack.
"Me and Curt were talking about our bad luck a bit," said Petan. "But it's nice to break through.
"It should be good for [Tuesday]. I'm just looking forward to playing a good offensive and defensive game."
Mantha, the runaway scoring leader in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, had a goal and three assists to give him nine points in three games.
Not bad for a big winger who was not certain to make the team out of camp three weeks ago.
"I came to camp and I wanted to make my place, and once I did that, I wanted to show I could play great hockey over here and that's what I'm doing now," the Detroit Red Wings prospect said.
Mantha 'was huge'
"Anthony was huge," added Sutter.
Drouin tied the game at 14:02 of the third period after Mantha beat 16-year-old Erik Cernak behind the Slovak goal and fed it in front.
Canada was on a power play when Petan walked out from the right side and threaded a goal through traffic.
Canada had to battle back from a 3-1 second-period deficit against a Slovak side playing a tight trap and leaning on the power play with the highly skilled unit of Reway, Griger and Milan Kolena for goals.
"It wasn't the start we wanted," said Drouin, the Mooseheads' star who was picked third overall by Tampa bay last June. "They scored on the power play I got and Brent let me know between periods.
For the third straight game Canada gave up the first goal, this time after Drouin got a minor and a misconduct for a hit to the head only 10 seconds in. Griger took Jakub Predajniansky's shot off the end boards and scored into an open side past Zach Fucale, who made his first start in goal.
Drouin did not see the ice again until Canada's power play at 16:49, but it was Lazar who scored on a one-timer of Mantha's pass after extended pressure in the Slovak zone at 18:20.
The mostly Canadian crowd of 2,258 at the 5,800-seat Isstadion howled at what they felt was Slovak diving that led to a pair of two-man advantages, both of which produced goals in the second frame.
The first saw Reway score his fourth of the tournament with a quick shot from a Kolena feed, and then Griger get his second of the game into an open side from Reway's pass.
Canada got one back before the third period as Mantha camped on the doorstep and banged in an Aaron Ekblad rebound at 17:00.
Canada, which outshot the Slovaks 49-22, heads into its New Year's Eve clash with the United States on Tuesday (11:30 a.m. ET) with a chance to take first place in Group A.
Slovakia closes out their round-robin phase of the tournament against the Czech Republic.
With files from The Canadian Press