Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau (above in Panthers garb) set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins clinching goal as Team Canada rallied to beat pesky Slovakia 6-3 at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia on Friday. In addition to the helper, Huberdeau finished with a +2 rating and fired three shots on goal. Huberdeau again was one of Canada's best players, especially in the first half of the game, where he created five or six golden scoring chances. Unfortunately, most of those chances were shot wide of the net.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was not the force he was against Germany but still produced a very pretty goal and an assist.
Defenseman Morgan Rielly fueled the comeback from a 3-1 deficit with a power play goal to make it 3-2 and a power play assist to the tie the game in the second period. He also drew a helper on Canada's first goal. After tying the game, Canada rolled the rest of the way, reeling off three more goals while tightening up in their own end.
Ryan Strome finished with two goals, Ty Rattie notched his second of the tournament and Mark Scheifele netted the game-winner on a nice deflection and added an assist. Marko Dano scored twice and added a helper for Team Slovakia.
Click here for a detailed recap of the game from the official 2013 World Junior Championship site.
Some random observations:
- Jonathan Huberdeau looked really good again. He was Canada's best player in the first half of the game when they were badly outplayed by the Slovaks. Huberdeau could have easily had two or three more assists had his teammates been on target with his pretty passes.
- Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele was real impressive in this one. Scheifele took a beating and dished out some big hits too. He set up the 5 on 3 goal by Morgan Rielly which ignited the comeback and made a nifty tip on his goal late in the second which turned out be the game-winner.
- Team Canada's defense needs to get better if they are going to win this tournament. Their positioning in their own end leaves a lot to be desired and they need to be more physical. In the offensive zone, they need to be better at getting shots from the point on goal and to make better passes to open forwards down low. Morgan Rielly was the obvious exception in today's game. He was excellent for the most part. I am liking Rielly much better than Dougie Hamilton after two games. The defense was much better in the third period.
- Canada definitely needs to adjust to the tighter style of officiating in the tournament. They took way too many penalties and had two players ejected from the game. Those players will likely be suspended although the major penalty assessed to Anthony Camara looked like a bad call so maybe he will be back in the next game J.C. Lipon looks certain to get at least a game and with Boone Jenner still missing due to an earlier suspension, Canada could find itself shorthanded as far as forward depth goes.
- Malcolm Subban was pretty good again. He reminds me of Roberto Luongo when Louie sports the Maple Leaf for Canada. Big, quick, makes some nice saves, gives up a lot of rebounds, will probably win a lot of games but he looks a bit uncomfortable in the cage. He stopped 25 of 28 shots during the game.
- Hats off to Slovakia who put a pretty good scare into Canada during the first half of the game. They were definitely helped by the two major penalties but they took advantage of their opportunities and scored twice on the power play. Once Canada got rolling, the Slovaks were overwhelmed by the depth and skill coming at them. This team should have no problem avoiding regulation and could even advance if they can pull off an upset against the USA.
- Other games today - Group A: Czech Republic 3, Finland 1