STOCKHOLM – Brian Campbell sent Steven Stamkos in alone in overtime, and Stamkos made no mistake, firing the winner at 2:36 of overtime to give Canada a 4-3 win over Slovenia. It was his second goal of the night and sixth of the tournament.
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Canada had defeated Slovenia by scores of 8-0 and 5-1 in the only two previous meetings in World Championship play.
"This was a wakeup call," noted defenceman Brenden Dillon. "We had to get the motor started, and to our credit we were able to."
The win gives Canada 18 points and top spot again in the Stockholm group, one point ahead of the Swiss, who have one game left tomorrow to reclaim first place.
Slovenia has just one point and is relegated to Division I for 2014.
"Today's game was about finding a way to win," suggested captain Eric Staal. "It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you do. Whether bounces work against you, you have to capitalize on your chances."
Canada played a dispirited game under difficult circumstances. The result didn't mean much for either team, and the favourites over-passed and played sloppy hockey to such an extent that Lindy Ruff broke up his top two lines, taking Taylor Hall off the line with Jordan Eberle and Matt Duchene and splitting the Staal brothers.
Slovenia wasn’t the better team in the first period based on puck possession, but it made the most of the few chances it had. Jan Urbas accounted for the only two goals, one a beauty, the other less so.
He scored at 5:53 when he danced awkwardly around three stationery Canadians in the slot and took a shot that Dubnyk fumbled. The puck bounced off the goalie’s glove and drilled over the goal line.
The play started when Claude Giroux was too cute on a two-on-one. Instead of firing a shot from in close, he tried to feather a hard pass to Stamkos. It was inaccurate, though, and play moved up ice where Urbas did his thing.
His second goal was the result of a superb long pass from David Rodman. Urbas split the Canadian defencemen and snapped a hard shot past Dubnyk’s glove.
Canada generated precious few scoring chances, though it did have the better of play at Globe Arena.
"Every team gets pumped up to play Team Canada," said Dillon. "We were a little lackadaisical and slow, and they capitalized on that."
The second period started out as most fans expected the first period to go – Canada scored two quick goals. Matt Duchene got the first goal just 2:01 into the period when he scooped up a rebound on a Jordan Staal shot, beating goalie Luka Gracnar for the first time.
Just 50 seconds later Stamkos tied the game thanks to a nice feed from behind the net courtesy of Giroux. But just when one might have thought Canada was taking control, the Slovenes shocked their opponents by going ahead, 3-2.
That goal came off a faceoff win in the Canadian end, finishing with a shot by Luka Tosic that was deflected in front by Tomaz Razingar at 7:17. Again Canada controlled the rest of the period but had little success in penetrating the stubborn Slovenian defence.
Canada came out and took control of the third period. It was rewarded at 7:09 when Dillon corralled a loose puck in the slot and beat Gracnar under the arm to tie the game, 3-3.