"It was a good game for us," said Canadian defenceman Kevin Bahl. "We had a good game plan coming in, and we executed well. I think after we beat the States we got complacent, so it was good that Russia beat us after. It gave us that reason to improve, and we realized that if we don't play our best, teams here can beat us."
"We made the same mistakes today as we did in the group stage," acknowledged Slovak forward Martin Fasko-Rudas."We took too many penalties, and against Canada we can't do that. It wasn't a good tournament for us. We lost too many games, allowed too many goals, and didn't score enough. We're not happy with how we played here."
After missing most of three games with a knee injury, Alexis Lafreniere made his presence felt immediately this afternoon, scoring once and adding a beautiful assist.
In the first period alone Lafreniere made a nice hit, made a sensational pass for the opening goal, pokechecked the puck off a Slovak forward’s stick on a clear chance, drew a penalty, and almost scored on the ensuing power play.
Looked like the knee was A-okay!
But before the whiz kid could do any of that, Canada’s penalty killers had to step up in a big way. Nolan Foote took a bad penalty in the opening minute, hitting Kristian Kovacik in the head on the forecheck and earning a five-minute major and game misconduct.
The Slovaks could generate very little during this extended power play, however, and on the one great chance they got goalie Joel Hofer made a sensational save off Robert Dzugan in close.
"That's obviously not how we wanted to start the game, but we did a great job killing it off, and that set the tone for the game," Liam Foudy said.
Bahl agreed. "To kill a five-minute penalty like that is huge, and after that we started to roll over them."
"We had a great chance to score the first goal, and when we didn't that was a turning point," offered Fasko-Rudas.
The Canadians doubled their lead just 1:21 into the second after an unwise pinch at the Canadian blue line by Oliver Okuliar. Joe Veleno poked the puck ahead to Connor McMichael and he beat Hlavaj to the far side.
"I like to think I've got a pretty good shot, so I looked one way and shot the other," McMichael said. "I found an opening and scored."
They made it 3-0 on a similar shot from defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker. He walked in off the blue line, made a toe drag, and hit the stick side of Hlavaj again.
Foudy made it 4-0 when he took a stretch pass from Ty Dellandrea, blew by the defence and backhanded the puck in. And Lafreniere made it 5-0 on the power play, his shot through traffic again hitting the mark on Hlavaj’s weak side.
Canada made it 6-0 exactly one minute into the third thanks to another power-play blast from Hayton, and that spelled the end of Hlavaj. Samuel Vyletelka came on for the remainder of the game.
The Slovaks broke Hofer's shutout five minutes later when Okuliar got free down the left wing and blasted a shot to the far side over the goalie's glove. It was the only blemish on an otherwise fine performance again for Hofer, who is clearly the number-one goalie for Canada heading to the weekend games.