It was a stunning end to a thrilling final 40 minutes of play.
"That’s why he scored 50 goals in the NHL," gushed teammate Korbinian Holzer. "He doesn’t need much space to make something special happen. You could see today why he’s a special player."
"Obviously, with his great quality, we’re happy to have him [Draisaitl]," added winning goalie Mathias Niederberger. "And then the fact that we believed in ourselves – we knew we could win, and we stayed with it."
The win keeps Germany perfect with a 4-0 record and 12 points, first in Group A and with a clear path to the quarter-finals. The Slovaks are mired in sixth place with just three points for a 1-3 record, and a chance at the quarter-finals slipping away.
"There are seven games, and we have to play all of them," said Slovak coach Craig Ramsay. "We’ve played four, but we’re not finished yet. My job is to make sure our team plays the best it can play, and I thought tonight we were brilliant. I’m proud of this team, and everybody should be proud of this team. Nobody could have worked harder. The fact we didn’t win is disheartening, but it doesn’t change what we have to do."
In the end, Slovakia dominated and was rewarded for its perseverance – until the end. It scored power-play goals 85 seconds apart early in the second to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, a lead they never surrendered until the final two minutes.
The Slovaks were the better team in a scoreless first and came out flying again in the second, but David Buc hit the post on one shot and a while later Richard Panik also blasted one off the iron.
In between Marc Michaelis staked Germany to a 1-0 lead at 3:54. A faceoff win in the Slovak end had Eisenschmid take the puck around the net. He spotted Michaelis, who ripped a clean shot past Ciliak. Shots were 15-4 for Slovakia at this point, but the Germans had the lead.
But several minutes later the Germans took two quick penalties, giving the hosts a 5-on-3 for 1:37. It took only six seconds to get the first one, Andrej Sekera tearing into a shot that Mathias Niederberger had little chance on.
Then, down to a one-man advantage, Libor Hudacek’s shot went in off the goalie’s shoulder.
The fireworks weren’t yet over. Patrik Koch took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking, but the Slovak penalty killers were sensational, preserving the lead effectively.
In the third, it looked like the Slovaks would successfully kill off the clock, but the tide turned emotionally when Ladislav Nagy hammered Moritz Seider into the side boards from behind. Nagy received only a minor, but Seider was very slow to get up and never returned. The fact that Nagy got only two minutes enraged German coach Toni Soderholm and seemed to energize his bench.
Soderholm pulled Niederberger with two-and-a-half minutes left, and that set the stage for a wild finish with a German exclamation mark.