ZURICH-KLOTEN – Canada scored three of its five power-play goals in a chippy first period en route to a one-sided 7-3 win over Slovakia before 6,300 fans at a sold-out Kloten Arena. Defenceman Shea Weber had a goal and three assists while Martin St. Louis had four assists.
With the win Canada finishes atop Group A with a perfect 3-0-0 record and nine points. Slovakia finishes third with four points (a win, a loss, and an overtime loss), and both teams advance to the Qualification Round along with Belarus while Hungary must fight for survival in the Relegation Round.
"After two tough games we thought we should have won," Boris Valabik said, "it was tough to face such a good team. We played well in our exhibition games, but something happened between then and here [Kloten] because we can't seem to catch a break."
Derek Roy opened the scoring at 4:50 on the power play with a slap shot from the top of the circle that whizzed by goalie Jaroslav Halak. It was the result of a set series of passes clockwise and continuous motion counter-clockwise which created an opening in the centre of the ice, giving Roy plenty of time to walk in and take aim.
Canada connected on a five-on-three advantage at 6:54 on another nice passing play, this time St. Louis finding captain Shane Doan in the slot. His shot squeaked by Halak to give Canada an early 2-0 lead.
Canada got its third power-play goal of the period when Shea Weber’s shot was kicked out by Halak right onto Jason Spezza’s stick. Spezza quickly snapped it in to put Canada in control.
"The power play was really working for us today," Spezza agreed. "I thought we really challenged them, and they're a tough team to play against. Hopefully, we 'll keep getting better as we move to the next round."
The Slovaks temporarily got back in the game at 6:05 of the second off a faceoff to Dwayne Roloson’s left. Peter Olvecky won the draw cleanly and Tomas Surovy wristed a quick shot through the goalie’s pads to make it a 3-1 game.
Ian White restored the lead at 9:39 with another great shot. The play began with a nice end-to-end rush by Steve Stamkos, and although he was checked off the puck he doggedly pursued the defence and forced a turnover. Quick passes by Stamkos to St. Louis and on to White produced the goal.
Weber followed up with another blast over Halak’s shoulder on another two-man advantage. That score ended Halak’s night as coach Jan Filc sent in Jan Lasak. But still with a single man advantage, Canada continued to press and Steve Stamkos flipped a short side wrist shot over Lasak’s glove to make it a 6-1 game.
The third period was all about taking care of business, but Spezza got his second of the night after a nice takeaway by Matt Lombardi at the Slovakian blueline.
Marcel Hossa and Dominik Granak closed out the scoring with late power-play goals for Slovakia. "You can't take penalties against these guys, or be down five-on-three," Hossa noted. "But when we played five-on-five, I thought the game was even and when we played our best."
"It's just a matter of getting used to playing with each other," Weber said of the team's chemistry and confidence. "We're all on different NHL teams, so it's just a matter of working together and getting better as we go along."
The Preliminary Round finishes Wednesday night after which the game schedule for the Qualification Round will be immediately announced.