World Juniors 2014 Game Recap: Canada engineers a third period comeback to defeat Slovakia

Bruce Bennett

It was touch and go for most of the game, but Canada rallied in the third period to ensure a victory over the surprisingly potent Slovakians.

The Canadian team has proven one thing so far in this tournament, they don't like doing things the easy way. With Slovakia being most potent on the powerplay, Team Canada took 22 minutes worth of penalties, including two long 5-on-3s, both of which resulted in goals by Slovakia.

Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway was the best player on either team, setting up two of Slovakia's goals and scoring the third, he was a scoring chance machine the entire game. His puck possession game is fantastic, due in part to his stickhandling and elusiveness, but also due to surprising physicality from the small forward. He has incredible balance and is tough to get off the puck, even when cornered. His play reminded me of Patrick Kane, to be honest.

Fellow Habs prospect Zachary Fucale got the start for Canada, and it started out a little shaky for him, allowing a goal on the first shot he faced after Jonathan Drouin took a penalty for checking to the head on his first shift. However he settled down as the game went on, and made several highlight reel stops that the team wasn't getting from Jake Paterson. His save percentage didn't look great in the end, but keeping in mind that all the goals against him were on the powerplay, and two of which were on 2-man advantages, it's tough to blame him for any of them.

Charles Hudon also had a solid game, notching three shots on goal and looking like one of Canada's best forwards through the first two periods, until he was interfered with while reaching for a loose puck, and slammed awkwardly into the boards. Hudon went down favouring his right shoulder, and left the game, only to return a few minutes later, but he looked like he was hurting.

Down 3-1 late in the second period in spite of dominating even strength play, Canada rallied on the back of Anthony Mantha, who scored a goal before the second ended, then set up two others in the third period. Jets prospect Nic Petan scored the game winning goal, showing a ton of patience on the powerplay before sniping it from a sharp angle. Petan also scored the empty netter that sealed the game.

As much as the game was frustrating for 40 minutes, there are many positives to draw from going forward, the biggest of which are on Canada's blueline. Josh Morrissey and Derrick Pouliot had their best games of the tournament, moving the puck extremely well and skating to create space for themselves. The two of them had a combined 11 shots on goal, and their transition game allowed Canada to be dominant on possession for the first time in the tournament.

Heading into the New Years Eve game against the USA, getting their even strength game up to par was extremely important, now Canada just needs to focus on not taking so many dumb(a) penalties.

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