Keeping their World Cup championship hopes alive and well, the Canadians put the hammer down on their weaker opponent – Slovakia on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. In front of another sell-out crowd, the Canadians took the lead early and didn’t let up from there.
Canada improves to 2-0 as they take an easy win from Slovakia, beating them 5-1 at the Bell Centre.
Wednesday night saw no vintage uniforms for Canada, though it didn’t stop the Canadians from starting from where they left off the night before.
Like last night against the States, Canada came out of the gate flying. Five minutes into the game, Team Canada had a 2-0 lead.
With the Canadiens pressing, Slovak defender Zdeno Chara was stripped off the puck while attempting to clear the zone by Canadian forward Joe Thornton. Thornton made no mistake, beating the Slovakian goaltender Rastislav Stana through the five-hole, sending the Bell Centre crowd into a frenzy.
Canada maintained all the momentum they had built, and hard-working Ryan Smyth came out from behind the goal-line, and burried a shot from the slot to put Canada ahead 2-0. Vincent Lecavalier and Adam Foote got the assists on Smyth’s goal. Martin Brodeur made the most highlight-worthy save of the first frame when Minnesota Wild superstar Marian Gaborik had a clear-cut breakaway, penalty shot style, and Brodeur stoned not just his shot, but the rebound after when Miroslav Satan ripped a shot.
With Jose Theodore looking on from the bench, the Canadians have to be confident about their current goaltending tandem. Brodeur has been simply put, incredible in all international play in recent memory.
Fast forward to the second period. Team Canada wasted no time jumping back on the attack, taking the first eight shots of the period, many of them scoring chances. Stana kept it close for the Slovaks, robbing Dany Heatley, Smyth, and Shane Doan of quality scoring chances. Finally, Simon Gagne received a pass from Martin St. Louis that was deflected by defender Zdeno Chara and he made no mistake, re-directing it past Stana to give Canada a 3-0 lead.
That is how the score would stay until the third period, thanks in part to an incredible save made by Brodeur. Satan walked in and hammered a bouncing puck straight to what looked like the top corner of the net, but Brodeur quickly got his glove up and took a sure goal away from the Sabres sniper.
As it has been all tournament, Canada’s powerplay was strong yet again. It went to work a minute into the third period, with Brad Richards setting up St. Louis with a one-timer that beat Stana to put Canada ahead 4-0. Slovakia got on the board 4:53 into the third period, with Cibak beating Brodeur, assists going to Lubos Bartecko and Branko Radivojevic.
Just under two minutes later, Ryan Smyth put Canada up 5-1 scoring on a goal from Vincent Lecavalier, with Dany Heatley also getting in on the play. With the sellout crowd of 21, 273 at the Bell Centre singing their usual Ole Ole anthem, the Canadian team upped their record to 2-0 in the tournament. It has put them in superb position for the final standings, clinching first place unless Russia – who have yet to play a game – can win all three of their round robin games. Canada will finish up their round robin action in Toronto on Saturday night against their arch-rivals, the Russians. It will be Canada’s first true test of the World Cup tournament. Stay tuned for details.
Habs Notes: Jose Theodore was dressed for tonight’s game, he was on the bench serving as back-up to Martin Brodeur. It is unknown where he will watch the game from on Saturday, though you can bet your top dollar it won’t be from the Air Canada Centre crease…. Canadiens forward Richard Zednik sat Wednesday night’s contest out for the Slovaks due to food poisoning. He is expected to be released from hospital in the coming days.