Sunday, May 12, 2013

Make it four straight, as Canada edge Czech Republic 2-1

Seldom used Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner played the role of hero for Team Canada on Sunday afternoon, scoring early in period three and propelling Canada to a crucial 2-1 over the Czech Republic at the 2013 IIHF World Championship. Netminder Mike Smith stopped thirty shots in earning his second victory and improving upon his tournament leading .952 SV%.

Canada jumped out to an early advantage, as Wayne Simmonds neatly re-directed Eric Staal's pass through Ondrej Pavelec, cashing in on yet another power play opportunity. Defenceman Dan Hamhuis picked up the second assist on the goal, in what his debut performance of the tourney, since being added to the roster on Friday. After looking less than impressive to start the championship, Lindy Ruff's crew have now scored in four consecutive games on the man advantage.

Despite falling behind midway through the first, the Czech Republic started to take the game to the Canadians and were rewarded with the equalizer before the period was out. Petr Koukal knocked home a juicy rebound off the pads of Smith, after sliding in behind TJ Brodie and pouncing on the loose the puck.

Canada found themselves in a bit of a pickle six minutes into the second, as Luke Schenn was handed a five minute major and a game misconduct, for a hit from behind. Lucky for them, Martin Hanzal took an ill-advised tripping penalty midway through the man advantage, breaking up what could have been a game changing situation.

The score would remain tied until Skinner broke the deadlock on a goal Pavelec would love to have back. After picking up the puck deep in his own zone, the young Hurricanes sniper went coast to coast, before beating the Winnipeg Jets netminder with a nifty  little wraparound. Give Skinner credit for one helluva rush up ice but Pavelec simply had to mind a way to keep that puck out.

The win leaves Canada with a 5-0-1 mark with one game remaining in the preliminary round of the competition, good enough for second spot in Group S. At this point, it looks as though the Canadians may very well have to settle for the runner-up position in the group, as Switzerland continues to be the surprise of the tournament, beating Norway 3-1 for their sixth win of the round robin.

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