Although he scored his 3rd goal of the tournament, Vancouver Canuck winger Alex Burrows and his Canadian teammates fell 4-3 to Slovakia today in what can only be described as an upset. In spite of the loss, it was a good tournament for Burrows who only played 5 games because of a concussion he suffered in the first game of the tournament against the Slovaks.
Boston Bruin defenseman and part-time Canuck nemesis Zdeno Chara played a key role for the Slovakians in his first World Championship since 2007. He made a goal line stand that was more of a goal line sit during a 5-on-3 in the middle of the second period. Chara kneeled on the line and hugged the post while the Canadians attempted to poke it past him for a solid 5 seconds before a whistle was blown. Canada had five forwards to start the powerplay and still couldn’t break the 2-2 tie.
On his scoring play, Burrows dug a shoot-in out of the corner late in the 2nd with the score still tied 2-2. He then fed it around the back boards to Winnipeg Jet captain Andrew Ladd. Ladd bounced off a couple of Slovaks and walked off the half wall for a shot. The rebound was kicked out to St. Louis Blues defenseman Kris Russel, who joined the team after the Blues were swept by the Los Angeles Kings. Russel fired another shot towards the net and Burrows banged home a rebound. It was a classic Burrows goal as he capped off good hard work with some timely finishing. The guy seems to have a knack for scoring clutch goals.
It was actually a huge goal for Burrows and Team Canada. They took a 3-2 lead into the third period, but then they blew it. After a wild second where Canada had 17 shots, they came out absolutely flat in the third frame. They wanted to sit on their lead. The Slovaks pushed for goals and they got them. First, Detroit Red Wing prospect Tomas Tatar scooped up an errant Canadian pass inside his own blueline and whizzed up the ice. He dropped to Milan Bartovic, veteran of 50 NHL games, whose initial shot was blocked before he buried his own rebound.
Then the game really turned on it’s head. The moment that Edmonton Oiler youngster Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stepped out of the box after a boarding penalty, Anaheim Duck captain Ryan Getzlaf took a kneeing penalty with only 2:28 left in the third. The action was apparently deemed severe enough to warrant a five minute major and a game misconduct for Getzlaf. A poetic ending for a player that came to Helsinki trying to reach the Triple Gold Club with a World Championship win; he instead found himself arguing with drunken Finns and taking a costly penalty in what would be his team’s final game. On the faceoff in Canada’s end following the call, San Jose Shark Michal Handzus won the draw back to fellow NHL’er Andrej Sekera of the Buffalo Sabres. Sekera let a quick shot go and as Handzus drove to the front of the net, he tipped it past Carolina Hurricane netminder Cam Ward.
The major penalty meant the Canadians had to pull their goalie in the final minute just to give them five skaters. It didn’t pay off. The mighty Team Canada crashed out of the World Championship tournament in the quarterfinals.
It’s hard to point fingers at players who are representing their countries and putting their bodies on the line late in the season, but Ward had a number of weak games and especially weak first periods in this tournament. He gave up a goal to Florida Panther Tomas Kopecky less than six minutes into this game, and it wasn’t the first time the Canadians had to battle back from an early defecit. Ward fumbled pucks and kicked out juicy as rebounds as the Canadians seemed to get in a lot of early holes. A performance like that will definitely be noteworthy, if not concerning, for a Team Canada management staff that have surely started thinking about which players will defend Canada’s Olympic Gold Medal on international ice at the 2014 Sochi Games.