International Ice Hockey Federation

Tour du chapeau!

Tour du chapeau!

Kroselj great but no match for MacKinnon's hatter

Published 07.05.2017 22:12 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Tour du chapeau!
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 7: Canada's Nate Mackinnon #29 scores against Slovenia's Gasper Kroselj #32 during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Nathan MacKinnon made it look easy--the whole team did--beating a game Slovenia, 7-2, despite some fine goaltending from a beleaguered Gasper Kroselj.

Kroselj faced 51 shots, many of them first-rate scoring chances, but he could do only so much on his own.

Chad Johnson, making his first career start for Canada in the World Championships, faced just 14 shots. He had previously appeared in bits and pieces of three games in 2010.

"We had the puck for most of the game so I didn’t really have a lot to do," Johnson said. "To be able to get in a full game and get a feel for the ice surface was nice."

Slovenia had never beaten Canada in the only three previous meetings, and it was clear from the outset that history wouldn't be made today.

"Every game, we just want to go out there and help the team win, no matter how we do it," Canada's Mitch Marner said. "I think all of us are just contributing, and that gives us a chance to win no matter who's putting up the points."

Canada was superior in every aspect of the game, so much so that most of the 9,128 fans watched in awe as Canada moved the puck around with ease. They cheered Slovenia’s every long shot, pokecheck, or small play that flummoxed Canada ever so briefly.

Canada now improves to 2-0 this year and has won 21 of its last 22 World Championship games. Slovenia is now 0-2 (one shootout loss).

Several Canadians had big games. MacKinnon also had an assist to go with his three goals; defenceman Tyson Barrie had a goal and three assists; Travis Konecny had three helpers; and, Mitch Marner had a pretty goal and assist.

"I thought the puck was following me around," MacKinnon enthused. "I had a couple of greasy goals. Skins [Jeff Skinner] and G [Claude Giroux] made it easy for me out there. Marner made a nice pass to me cross-ice, and I managed to score."

"We didn’t expect to win against Canada," admitted Slovenia's Jan Mursak. "They have a very quality team. All the NHL players are there, and we don’t have one. We just tried to survive, maybe make them work a little harder. But the bottom line is that they were just too good. As soon as we were a second too late on the play, they were creating a lot of chances, and we were chasing them around in the defensive zone."

Canada gave fans their money’s worth, starting with a goal by Barrie after a nice bit of circling by Wayne Simmonds. Barrie took a little drop pass and whisked a shot through heavy traffic in front past Kroselj at 4:30 to make it 1-0.

Canada didn’t get its second until ten minutes later, but again it came after a lengthy puck possession and ended with MacKinnon pushing a loose puck in the crease over the goal line.

Less than two minutes later, Kroselj, who had made several fine saves, was beaten by his own defenceman. Brayden Point tried to centre the puck, but it bounced off the skate of Luka Vidmar and past the surprised goalie.

Canada made it 4-0 on a thrilling little play. Calvin de Haan fed a streaking Giroux with a pass. Giroux pirouetted in front and got a shot off, but Kroselj made the save. MacKinnon, though, was unguarded in front and put the rebound in at 4:44.

The scoring continued. MacKinnon scored his hat-trick goal a minute later on a power play, drilling a high shot over Kroselj’s glove that had the crowd oohing and aahing. 

Slovenia got on the board on a memorable play. After a faceoff win in their own zone, the Slovenes roared up ice, Robert Sabolic feeing a nice pass to captain Jan Mursak streaking for the net. Mursak made a nice deflection past the pad of Chad Johnson to make it 5-1. 

Marner got a sixth Canada goal, taking a pass in front and outwaiting half the Slovenian team before chipping the puck in the open net.

Skinner made it 7-1 on a crazy play inside the Slovenia end. He tried to pass to the point from the faceoff dot, but the puck hit the shaft of Ales Music's stick and deflected over the hunched back of Kroselj.

Jan Urbas got the second Slovenia goal at 17:55 during a delayed penalty against Canada. 

Canada is back at it tomorrow, playing Belarus. The Slovenes have a day off before facing Norway in an important game for both teams as they hope to avoid relegation.

"Hopefully against Norway, we can stick together and play the best hockey in this tournament," Mursak added. "Hopefully we can get a point or two or three."


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