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Canada eliminated after 4-3 loss to Slovakia

Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 10:13 AM
By Leah Hendrickson - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
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Canada eliminated after 4-3 loss to Slovakia

For the third straight year, Team Canada's IIHF World Championship tournament ended in the quarterfinal round after dropping a 4-3 decision to fourth-seeded Slovakia in Helsinki.

Patrick Sharp registered an assist in 16:20 of ice time in Team Canada’s last game of the tournament.

Canada started the game slowly, allowing goals from Tomas Kopecky and Miroslav Satan within the first 10 minutes of play. Evander Kane was the first on the scoresheet for Canada, tallying at 16:14.

The second period saw an entirely different Team Canada squad. They were composed, confident and determined, keeping the puck in the Slovak zone for nearly the entire frame. Jeff Skinner and Alex Burrows were rewarded for their efforts, scoring at 16:30 and 17:43, respectively, to give Canada their first lead of the night.

With a 3-2 lead heading into the final frame, Team Canada found itself just 20 minutes away from its first semifinal berth in three years.

The Slovaks, however, had other plans.

After Milan Bartovic netted the equalizer for Slovakia with 6 and a half minutes left in the game, Team Canada unraveled. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a boarding penalty seconds after Bartovic’s goal, and as soon as Canada killed the penalty off, Ryan Getzlaf was given a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for a dangerous knee-on-knee hit on Juraj Mikus. Michal Handzus converted on the power play with 2:28 left in the game, earning Slovakia its first win against Canada in seven tries. The last time Team Canada suffered a defeat to the Slovaks was in the 2002 World Championship when Slovakia won its first and only gold.

Sharp finished the tournament with eight points (1G, 7A) and a +2 plus/minus rating in eight games for Team Canada. Duncan Keith finished with a team-high 11 points (1G, 10A) and a +7 rating in his second World Championship tournament. Keith also led the Canadians with 179:45 of total ice time, more than 15 minutes ahead of the next Canadian.

Both Keith and Sharp earned the distinction of Best Player for Team Canada on separate occasions. Keith was recognized for tallying an assist and finishing with a team-leading +2 rating in Canada's preliminary-round debut on May 4, and Sharp was rewarded after his five-point performance against France on May 7.

With Russia's 5-2 victory over Norway, Canada finished the tournament in fifth place. Slovakia will take on the winner of the Sweden-Czech Republic game in the semifinals on Saturday.