by Brad MacArthur (@BradMacArthur)
Game 3 is in the books for Team Canada here at the 2014 U20 World Championships in Malmo, Sweden. A furious third period rally saw the Canadians climb back from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3.
The game likely wasn't how the Canadian coaching staff scripted it. Jonathan Drouin took a head contact minor just seconds into the game and Canada fell behind 1-0 off a Slovak powerplay goal. Drouin, like his young superstar counterpart Connor McDavid, was not immune to Brent Sutter's wrath, remaining planted between the forwards and defense for several shifts while his teammates battled on. Curtis Lazar replied for Canada late in the period on a powerplay, Drouin's first shift back. Other than that early Slovak goal, Canada dominated the 1st period peppering the Slovak tender Samuel Baros with 21 shots.
The 2nd period was a nightmare for the Canadian side. Penalty after penalty at the worst possible times led to 5 on 4 and 5 on 3 situations. The upstart Slovaks took full advantage scoring two man up goals, with Zach Fucale very little chance on either. Team Canada could establish very little presence, and in fact scored their only goal of the period off of Anthony Mantha parked directly in front of Baros. Aaron Ekblad's shot from the point found it's way through, and Mantha was able to steer in the rebound to end the period 3-2.
With an energetic pro-Canadian side of over 2500, Canada came out with some jump and established a strong physical forecheck. The Slovaks stood tall until a turnover in deep in their zone resulted in Drouin pumping a one timer past an unsuspecting Baros. With the game knotted 3-3, the momentum shifted back in the Canadian favour. Nick Petan was the answer the rest of the way notching a powerplay marker, and empty net goal for the comeback 5-3 win.
Coach Brent Sutter was very polite after the game addressing media questions over the game officiating calling it "tight" saying he "didn't agree with some of the calls".
Sutter indicated that Fucale will get his second straight start tomorrow versus the USA.
Breakdown: Team Canada did an admirable job of staying consistent in their approach while facing a 3-1 deficit. Canada was able to gain offensive rhythm by getting pucks to the net WITH traffic. That approach and the forwards retrieving rebounds and maintaining possession confused the Slovaks time and time again. That is going to be essential for success against US netminder Jon Gillies. He's big and takes up most of the net. He also moves fairly well, saving almost anything he is able to clearly see. Team Canada will need to harness the energy the Canadian crowd gives them early to put pressure on the stingy US defense.
Canada needs a regulation win to clinch first place in the pool. If that happens, Canada would face the Swiss in the quarterfinals. A second place finish would mean a date with the Finns or Russians.