Just 6:55 into the second period Slovakia coach Ján Filc was prowling his team’s bench giving them an earful. That’s because all of Slovakia’s fine first-period work against Team Canada was going up in a cloud of smoke.
After being held scoreless in the first period, Canada erupted for four goals in a nine-minute span as they went on to rout Slovakia, 5-0, in a World Cup Quarterfinal match at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday night.
The Canadian victory, the first international shutout for goaltender Martin Brodeur, sets the stage for a showdown with Jaromír Jágr and the streaking Czech Republic Saturday in Toronto. The United States will once against serve as the “road team” against Finland at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Friday night.
For Canada, this was the game they were waiting for — not a single-elimination match — but the game where Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla line finally broke out. Iginla had two goals and an assist, Sakic notched a goal and two assists and Lemieux added two helpers. All told, the line combined for eight points.
“Tonight they broke free,” Canadian coach Pat Quinn said. “They were really sharp around the puck and Mario made some terrific plays and Jarome found some good spots to be in and that’s the pay day for the good work they’ve been doing.”
Through the entire tournament this line has been generating chances. Quinn kept saying it was only a matter of time before they harvested a bushel and Wednesday was the day they raided the fields.
The key was patience.
“Part of the discussions we had was to make sure that we were patient throughout this,” Quinn said. “The easiest thing was to try to force it.”
Slovakia took to clogging the neutral zone, daring the Canadians to plow through in a reckless attempt to entertain their fans.
“We had to make sure we came through mid-ice as a unit and start to put the puck behind them,” Quinn said. “Patience was very important and we had some examples of that. We watched the Swedes get impatient and we watched the Russians get impatient against the styles that were thrown at them.”
Impatience sent the Swedes and Russians home early. And it did the same to the Slovaks.
The unraveling started when Miroslav Šatan tripped Shane Doan in the neutral zone just 52 seconds into the middle period.
Canada struck when Brad Richards walked around Radoslav Suchý and dished a cross-slot pass to Vincent Lecavalier, who drilled it into the empty side of the cage. Canada was on it’s way 1-0 just 2:28 into the period.
Three minutes later, Iginla came away from the left boards, walked across the goal line and fired the puck in. The goal was originally credited to Lemieux, but was changed between periods.
That’s when Filc started marching up and down the bench giving his players an earful. But the Slovakians only managed to get sloppier.
At 11:29, a turnover at the Slovkian blue line was picked up by Dany Heatley. He left a drop pass for Lecavalier, who charged down the slot and unleashed a low pass/shot that was tipped in by Ryan Smyth, who was camped at the right post. The goal was Canada’s third in nine minutes.
But they weren’t done.
A mere 19 seconds later, Sakic walked up the middle of the ice and simply smoked a shot over the right shoulder of goaltender Ján Lašák.
An exasperated Filc called time out and pulled Lašák in favour of Rastislav Staňa.
“I think getting those goals quickly in the second period, I don’t know if it demoralized them or anything, but it really helped us, gave us a big boost, enabled us to just continue our momentum and our game plan throughout.” Sakic said.
Iginla added his second of the night at 7:49 of the third period to close out the scoring.
“They’re very easy guys to play with,” Iginla said. “I still battle not being a little bit in awe there. It’s something, they’re so down-to-earth that you know you miss a play. I want to hit them every time they’re open, kind of convert every time I can, but they’re great. They’re so positive. You come back and miss and they pat me on the back. Sometimes I can use that when it was getting pretty tough in there.”
“It’s a real treat playing with Mario and Joe,” Iginla said.
It was a treat to watch them play – unless your seat was on the Slovakian bench.
00:41 – 🇸🇰 PEN – Višňovský, high sticking
04:23 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Heatley, cross checking
20:52 – 🇸🇰 PEN – Šatan, tripping
22:28 – 🇨🇦 PP GOAL – Lecavalier (Richards, Brewer)
25:26 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Iginla (Sakic, Brewer)
31:29 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Smyth (Lecavalier, Heatley)
31:48 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Sakic (Iginla, Lemieux)
34:05 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Brodeur, tripping
44:43 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Draper, hooking
47:49 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Iginla (Lemieux, Sakic)
53:35 – 🇸🇰 PEN – Pavlikovský, unsportsmanlike conduct
53:35 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Lecavalier, unsportsmanlike conduct
54:54 – 🇸🇰 PEN – Štrbák, elbowing
W: 🇨🇦 Brodeur (23-23)
L: 🇸🇰 Lašák (14-18), Staňa (7-8)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 10+10+6 = 26
🇸🇰 8+9+6 = 23
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, José Théodore. Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Eric Brewer, Adam Foote, Scott Hannan, Scott Niedermayer, Robyn Regehr. Forwards: Shane Doan, Kris Draper, Simon Gagné, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lecavalier, Mario Lemieux (C), Brad Richards, Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Martin St-Louis, Joe Thornton.
🇸🇰 Goaltenders: Ján Lašák, Rastislav Staňa. Defence: Zdeno Chára, Branislav Mezei, Jaroslav Obšut, Radoslav Suchý, Martin Štrbák, Ľubomír Višňovský. Forwards: Ľuboš Bartečko, Martin Cibák, Pavol Demitra, Marián Gáborík, Marián Hossa, Ladislav Nagy, Vladimír Országh, Rastislav Pavlikovský, Branko Radivojevič, Jozef Stümpel, Miroslav Šatan (C), Richard Zedník.
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||SLOVAKIA 🇸🇰|
(since 25 Aug 2004)
||21 Apr 2004|
(+ 1 tie)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. SVK)
🇸🇰 SVK 4-0 CAN 🇨🇦 – 18 Nov 1993 – THC – Lillehammer 🇳🇴
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. SVK)
🇨🇦 CAN 5-1 SVK 🇸🇰 – 01 Sep 2004 – WCH – Montréal 🇨🇦
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 3-1 RUS 🇷🇺 – 04 Sep 2004 – WCH – Toronto 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 CZE 🇨🇿 (OT) – 11 Sep 2004 – WCH – Toronto 🇨🇦