With the clock running down in the final frame of a back-and-forth 5-5 tie game between Team Canada and the host Slovakia, Winnipeg’s Mark Stone sealed the deal for the Canadians, scoring with 1.8 seconds left to play, on his 27th birthday nonetheless.
In what proved to be an extremely entertaining contest, the Slovaks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals one minute apart, bringing the crowd to a deafening roar. But the Canadians calmly battled back, knotting the game back up at twos with back-to-back strikes off the sticks of Anthony Mantha and Shea Theodore in the final four minutes of the opening frame.
Much like the first period, the second provided yet another two-goal explosion from Slovakia, as Ladislav Nagy and Adam Liska gave the home team another two-goal cushion over the tournament favourite Canada. But much like top seeded teams do, the Canadians battled back once again, this time scoring three goals in a span of nine minutes in the second half of the middle stanza. Jonathan Marchessault, Anthony Cirelli and Troy Stecher each found the twine, giving Canada its first lead of the game.
With just under nine minutes to play, the highly maligned Martin Marincin found fellow countryman Matus Sukel who scored the equalizer, tying the game at fives and subsequently sending those gathered at Steel Arena in Kosice into a premature frenzy. But on a late-period power play, former Ottawa Senators teammates Thomas Chabot and Mark Stone connected, snatching victory from the hands of the host. Stone took a cross-ice pass from his defenceman Chabot, and found room past Slovakian netminder Marek Ciliak with a wrist shot short side, winning the game for Canada with 1.8 seconds to spare.
Canadian backstop Matt Murray did not have a strong outing Monday, stopping just 26 of the 31 pucks directed his way. However, he allowed one fewer goals than his counterpart, collecting the win in the process. Damon Severson, Kyle Turris, Mantha, Theodore and Chabot each registered two points apiece. Seven Canadian players finished the game as minuses, while just two members of Team Canada ended in the positives.
Stone’s game-winner was his first goal of the tournament and second point in three games. After losing John Tavares to an oblique injury prior to the tournament’s opening game, Canada will need to rely on some depth scoring moving forward.
On a day in which Dylan Larkin and the United States beat Finland 3-2 in overtime, and William Nylander collected five points in Sweden’s 9-1 victory over Norway, the Canadians’ victory helped Canada improve to six points, finding themselves tied for second place in Group A with Germany, behind only the Finns.
Canada will now have some time off before taking on France on Thursday, before doing battle with Denmark and the Americans in the following days. The quarterfinals begin on Thursday, May 23rd, while the gold and bronze-medal games will be held on Sunday, May 26th.