Archive for OG – Slovakia

Finland 5 – Slovakia 3 : Bronze Medal Match Report

Finnish forward OLLI JOKINEN backhands the puck past Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK (41) in the third period for the winning goal in Finland's 5-3 triumph in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games from Vancouver, Canada. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Finnish forward OLLI JOKINEN backhands the puck past Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK (41) in the third period for the winning goal in Finland's 5-3 triumph in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games from Vancouver, Canada. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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The Bronze Medal Match always features two teams who would rather be somewhere else — in the Gold Medal Game, specifically.

Nevertheless, both FINLAND and SLOVAKIA had all to play for in the contest for third place at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

Finland, the runners-up four years ago in Turin, took the ice with the chance for a fourth Olympic medal the past five tournaments on offer; the Slovaks, for their part, were seeking the first Olympic hardware in the nation’s hockey history.

It would be the Finns to strike first after the scoring champion from the 1994 Lillehammer Games, Slovakia’s ZIGMUND PALFFY of HK 36 Skalica, was sent of for holding late in the opening period. Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO of the Olympic host city’s Vancouver Canucks then blasted a shot from the top of the right circle past Slovak goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens with a little over a minute left until the first intermission. The chance had been created by the hustling play of Finland’s MIKKO KOIVU of the Minnesota Wild; Koivu successfully chased down Slovakia’s MICHAL HANDZUS just before the blueline in the offensive zone and jarred the puck loose with an effective check.  

Slovakia, handily outshot 12-5 over the initial twenty minutes, were able to regroup for the second session in large part due to the play of their special teams. 

Four seconds from halfway point of the second period, Slovakia’s MARIAN GABORIK balanced the scoreboard. With the Slovakia on the man-advantage, Gaborik worked his way from the right circle into the slot to receive a pass from PAVOL DEMITRA. The New York Rangers sniper promptly proceeded to wrist the puck past Finland netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF for his fourth goal of the 2010 Vancouver Games. 

With a little less than four and a half minutes left in the second stanza and this time operating on a two-man surplus, Slovakia again scored on the power play. Having whiffed on his first attempt with a lucky find, Chicago Black Hawks forward MARIAN HOSSA kicked himself the puck for a second chance at the side of the net after the Los Angeles King Handzus had flubbed his shot from the slot.

Slovakia surged to a 3-1 lead with 1:15 to be played in the second period when Hossa and Demitra went off on a two-on-one rush shorthanded.

Hossa would hand Demitra a picture perfect saucer pass for the Olympic host city’s Vancouver Canuck to hammer behind Kiprusoff. Injured most of this National Hockey League season, the 35-year-old veteran had amassed just one goal and four points in 11 NHL games prior to the Vancouver Games. Demitra’s shorthanded goal raised his 2010 Olympic totals to three goals and ten points from seven games.

And so, Slovakia were a mere twenty minutes from their first-ever medal for ice hockey the Winter Olympics.

But, perhaps, the Finns featured too much interntional experience on staff to let the opportunity for a fourth Olympic medal from the last five tournaments at the Winter Games pass.

Calgary Flames forward NIKLAS HAGMAN ignited the comeback for Finland with his fourth goal of the 2010 Vancouver Games five minutes into the final period. With the Finns benefiting from a power play, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman KIMMO TIMONEN waltzed into the slot for a wrist shot Hagman redirected behind Halak.

It would be the former Calgary Flames forward on his 106th appearance for Finland in a major international, OLLI JOKINEN, who stepped to the forefront to carry the torch for Suomi shortly thereafter.

Roughly a minute and a half following Hagman’s marker, the newest New York Ranger received a pass from the Ottawa Senators’ JARKKO RUUTU in the slot and snapped a wrist shot past the stickside of Halak to draw Finland level. After Hossa had been boxed for tripping almost eight minutes into the final frame, Jokinen then received a precision pass from defenseman JONI PITKANEN of the Carolina Hurricane at the Slovak blueline. The 31-year-old quickly shed Slovkian rearguard LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY of the Edmonton Oilers to approach Halak unhindered.

A textbook backhand goal, Jokinen’s third of the 2010 Vancouver Games and 32nd for Finland in a major international, left Halak helpless and would ultimately bring the set of bronze medals to Suomi.

This after Kiprusoff rediscovered his form in the Finnish goal for the third period to stifle the Slovaks and VALTTERI FILPPULA of the Detroit Red Wings found the empty Slovak net with 11 seconds left for his third goal of this Olympic tournament.

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FINLAND 5 – SLOVAKIA 3

Shots-on-goal :  Finland 33 – Slovakia 22

FIN goals :  Jokinen 2, Salo, Hagman, Filppula  

SVK goals :  Mn. Hossa, Gaborik, Demitra

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Slovakia defenseman ANDREJ SEKERA (44) of the Buffalo Sabres and Finland forward VILLE PELTONEN (16) of Belarussian club Dynamo Minsk in the Kontinental Hockey League hit the deck in the Bronze Medal Match in Vancouver. Peltonen, 36, a four-time Olympian who played for the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers in the NHL, was appearing in his 144th game for Finland at a major international tournament. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Slovakia defenseman ANDREJ SEKERA (44) of the Buffalo Sabres and Finland forward VILLE PELTONEN (16) of Belarussian club Dynamo Minsk in the Kontinental Hockey League hit the deck in the Bronze Medal Match in Vancouver. Peltonen, 36, a four-time Olympian who played for the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers in the NHL, was appearing in his 144th game for Finland at a major international tournament. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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Finland's top scorer at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Calgary Flames forward NIKLAS HAGMAN (10), is crunched against the boards by Slovakia defenseman ZDENO CHARA (33) of the Boston Bruins in the Bronze Medal Match from Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Finland's top scorer at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Calgary Flames forward NIKLAS HAGMAN (10), is crunched against the boards by Slovakia defenseman ZDENO CHARA (33) of the Boston Bruins in the Bronze Medal Match from Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Slovakian defenseman MILAN JURCINA (68) of the Columbus Blue Jackets jousts with Finnish forward TUOMO RUUTU (15) of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Slovak defender Jurcina (68) plants the Finnish forward Peltonen (16) at the edge of Finland’s bench beside the tree on the murled board in the Bronze Medal Match from Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Finland forward VILLE PELTONEN (16) punishes the muraled board with his face as Slovakia defenseman ANDREJ SEKERA (44) observes in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver. Perhaps Peltonen was not impressed with the artwork on display and chose to protest in an unusual fashion. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Finland forward VILLE PELTONEN (16) punishes the muraled board with his face as Slovakia defenseman ANDREJ SEKERA (44) observes in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver. Perhaps Peltonen was not impressed with the artwork on display and chose to protest in an unusual fashion. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Slovakia’s 37-year-old JOZEF STUMPEL (15) as well as Finland’s 36-year-old JERE LEHTINEN (26) each fashion an interesting face in their duel for the black disc in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Jaw still agape, the Slovak Stumpel is on his way to the ice surface at Canada Hockey Place as teammate MARIAN GABORIK (10) of the New York Rangers looks to gather the loose puck in the Bronze Medal Match at the Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Slovakia defenseman MARTIN STRBAK (77) of Russian club HK MVD Balashikha is squashed against the glass by Finland forward JARKKO RUUTU (37) of the Ottawa Senators in the Bronze Medal Match at the Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Finnish forward JARKKO RUUTU (37) in an all-out bid to dispossess Slovakia star MARIAN HOSSA (81) of the puck in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. The blue-collar Ruutu put forth a solid effort for Suomi at the 2010 Winter Olympics; the 34-year-old veteran, who had scored three goals in 72 games for Finland at major international events previously, tallied two goals in six games at the Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Finnish forward NIKLAS HAGMAN holds his stick high in front of Slovak goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK after the not-pictured SAMI SALO opened the scoring in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Finnish forward NIKLAS HAGMAN holds his stick high in front of Slovak goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK after the not-pictured SAMI SALO opened the scoring in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Hagman has a look down at the puck in the Slovak net as Finland go out front 1-0 in the Bronze Medal Match at the Vancouver Games. (AP/Julie Jacobson)

Hagman has a look down at the puck in the Slovak net as Finland go out front 1-0 in the Bronze Medal Match at the Vancouver Games. (AP/Julie Jacobson)

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With Finnish supporters showing the flag in the background, MIKKO KOIVU (9) and SAMI SALO (6) celebrate the opening goal of the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Koivu had created the chance with hustle in the offensive zone. Salo, meanwhile, picked a fine time to pot his first goal of the Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

With Finnish supporters showing the flag in the background, MIKKO KOIVU (9) and SAMI SALO (6) celebrate the opening goal of the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Koivu had created the chance with hustle in the offensive zone. Salo, meanwhile, picked a fine time to pot his first goal of the Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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The wrist shot of the not-pictured MARIAN GABORIK of Slovakia escapes Finnish netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF and bulges the back of the net in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

The wrist shot of the not-pictured MARIAN GABORIK of Slovakia escapes Finnish netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF and bulges the back of the net in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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A high kick for MARIAN GABORIK (10) of Slovakia after the New York Rangers star leveled the Bronze Medal Match of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

A high knee kick for MARIAN GABORIK (10) of Slovakia after the New York Rangers star leveled the score in the second period of the Bronze Medal Match of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Finnish netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF follows the bouncing puck as Slovakia’s MARIAN HOSSA (81) prepares to pounce in the Bronze Medal Match at the Vancouver Games. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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After fanning on his first attempt, the Chicago Black Hawks star Hossa (81) kicks the puck to himself for a second chance with the goalkeeper Kiprusoff struggling and Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO (6) stuck on the other side of the net

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Having regained control of the puck on his stick, Hossa prepares to push Slovakia into its first lead of the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Vancouver Canuck defenseman Salo (6) watches his early goal for Finland go by the wayside as Hossa finishes for Slovakia. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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MARIAN HOSSA (81) hands Slovakia a 2-1 lead with his thrid goal of the Vancouver Games despite one last desperate lunge from Finland goaltender MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Hossa, 30, has now netted 28 goals in 66 major international games for Slovakia. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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The Slovak assistant captain MARIAN HOSSA jumps for joy after sending Slovakia to the lead in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Hossa now stands alone in second place on Slovakia's all-time scoring chart for major international tournaments with 65 points. (Harry How/Getty Images)

The Slovak assistant captain MARIAN HOSSA jumps for joy after sending Slovakia to the lead in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Hossa now stands alone in second place on Slovakia's all-time scoring chart for major international tournaments with 65 points. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Slovakia’s PAVOL DEMITRA (38) of the Vancouver Canucks directs’s MARIAN HOSSA’s handsome saucer pass past Finnish netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF of the Calgary Flames on the shorthanded break in the Bronze Medal Match of the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The third goal of the Vancouver Games for Demitra (38) the Canuck gives Slovakia a 3-1 over Finland late in the second period of the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place. (Matt Slocum/AP)

The third goal of the Vancouver Games for Demitra (38) the Canuck gives Slovakia a 3-1 over Finland late in the second period of the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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Slovakia's PAVOL DEMITRA (38) delights with his shorthanded goal for Slovakia against Finland in his 'hometown' at the Vancouver Games. Demitra will finish the 2010 Winter Olympics as the tournament top-scorer with 10 points for Slovakia. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Slovakia's PAVOL DEMITRA (38) delights with his shorthanded goal for Slovakia against Finland in his 'hometown' at the Vancouver Games. Demitra will finish the 2010 Winter Olympics as the tournament top-scorer with 10 points for Slovakia. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

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Inside Canada Hockey Place, Finnish fans attempt to rally their troops down two goals heading into the final twenty minutes of play in the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games from Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Still wearing the protective shield for his fractured jaw, Finland star TEEMU SELANNE (8) of the Anaheim Ducks stickhandles during what was surely the final Olympic ice hockey game of the veteran 39-year-old’s international career against Slovakia in the Bronze Medal Match. Selanne scored no goals in six games at the Vancouver Games; the Finnish Flash had never before failed to notch at least one goal in 12 prior major international tournaments. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Finland were by far the most experienced squad at the 2010 Winter Olympics with more than 1,000 man-games played at major international tournaments. Ironically enough, the second most-seasoned squad at the Vancouver Games was Slovakia. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman KIMMO TIMONEN (44), above, initiated Finland’s third period comback in the Bronze Medal Match by walking into the slot on the power play. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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Finland’s NIKLAS HAGMAN (10) deflects the not-pictured Timonen’s wrist shot from the slot as Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) and goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK (41) defend in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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The hook of the Edmonton Oilers defenseman is in vain as the Montreal Canadiens netminder waves his goalstick with futility; the Calgary Flames forward has already lit the fuse for Finland's comeback in the Bronze Medal Match at Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The hook of the Edmonton Oilers defenseman is in vain as the Montreal Canadiens netminder waves his goalstick with futility; the Calgary Flames forward has already lit the fuse for Finland's comeback in the Bronze Medal Match at Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Hagman (center) raises his stick high to signal his fourth goal of the Vancouver Games; in the Slovak net, Halak has seen the Finnish deficit trimmed to one five minutes with most of the third period yet to be played. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Finland’s four-time Olympian and all-time scoring leader at major international tournaments, VILLE PELTONEN (16) of Belarus club Dynamo Minsk, prepares to join OLLI JOKINEN (at the right faceoff dot) just after the New York Ranger fired Finland to a 3-3 third period tie with Slovakia in the Bronze Medal Match the Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Suomi’s second-leading goal-scorer all-time at major international events, Peltonen (46 goals), congratulates Jokinen, who has not only lifted Finland level with Slovakia in the Bronze Medal Match at Canada Hockey Place, but moved past Vancouver Olympic teammate SAKU KOIVU (30 goals) into sixth place on Finland’s goal-scoring chart. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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After receiving the pinpoint pass from defenseman JONI PITKANEN, Finland forward OLLI JOKINEN (12) confronts Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK unhindered in the Bronze Medal Match of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After receiving the pinpoint pass from defenseman JONI PITKANEN, Finland forward OLLI JOKINEN (12) confronts Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK unhindered in the Bronze Medal Match of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Finn Jokinen (12) heads for the five-hole of Halak guarding the Slovakian goal at Canada Hockey Place. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

The Finn Jokinen (12) heads for the five-hole of Halak guarding the Slovakian goal at Canada Hockey Place. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

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The New York Ranger Jokinen scores the goal that will result in the bronze medal for Finland at the 2010 Vancouver Games as the Montreal Canadien Halak turns his head for an agonizing inspection of the Slovakia cage. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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OLLI JOKINEN (12) rejoices as his second goal of the game has given Finland a 4-3 lead over Slovakia in the Bronze Medal Match at Vancouver. For the 31-year-old, his 32nd goal at a major international event ties the three-time Olympian for fifth place with MIKA NIEMINEN on Finland's all-time goal-scoring chart. (Matt Slocum/AP)

OLLI JOKINEN (12) rejoices as his second goal of the game has given Finland a 4-3 lead over Slovakia in the Bronze Medal Match at Vancouver. For the 31-year-old, his 32nd goal at a major international event ties the three-time Olympian for fifth place with MIKA NIEMINEN on Finland's all-time goal-scoring chart. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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With the Slovak net empty, RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) has a final opportunity at goal as Finnish netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF fans out in the Bronze Medal Match from Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images) 

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Four Slovaks forwards — RICHARD ZEDNIK (20), MIROSLAV SATAN (18), MARIAN HOSSA (81) and JOZEF STUMPEL (15) — focus on the puck in the skates of Finland forward JARKKO RUUTU (37) on the edge of the goalcrease late in the Bronze Medal Match of the Vancouver Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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Finland netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF is able to cover the puck with the help of the hard-to-see Ruutu and KIMMO TIMONEN (44) as SAMI SALO (6) helps shield his goaltender late in Bronze Medal Match from Vancouver. Note the empty net at the other end as PAVOL DEMITRA (38) makes it five Slovak forwards in front of the Finnish goal. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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In the waning seconds of the Bronze Medal Match, Finland forward VALTTERI FILPPULA (51) chases down the puck for the clinching empty-net goal as his teammates down ice begin victory celebrations at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

In the waning seconds of the Bronze Medal Match, Finland forward VALTTERI FILPPULA (51) chases down the puck for the clinching empty-net goal as his teammates down ice begin victory celebrations at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Slovakia’s melancholy defenseman MILAN JURCINA (68) of the Columbus Blue Jackets sinks to his knees as Finland’s bench empties to bask in the triumph of the Bronze Medal Match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Assistant captains KIMMO TIMONEN (44) and TEEMU SELANNE (8) join Finland captain SAKU KOIVU (11) in leading the bronze medalists from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games on a victory lap at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Canada 3 – Slovakia 2 : Match Report

Canada's RYAN GETLZAFF (51) celebrates his goal from his knees while COREY PERRY (24) and BRENDEN MORROW (10) elate in the semifinals of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver. Getzlaff's goal ultimately proved to be the game-winner. Meanwhile, star forward MARIAN HOSSA (81) skates away for Slovakia. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Canada's RYAN GETLZAFF (51) celebrates his goal from his knees while COREY PERRY (24) and BRENDEN MORROW (10) elate in the semifinals of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver. Getzlaff's goal ultimately proved to be the game-winner. Meanwhile, star forward MARIAN HOSSA (81) skates away for Slovakia. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

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Both CANADA and SLOVAKIA had each lost to their neighbors and rival, the United States and the Czech Republic, respectively, in the round-robin at the Vancouver Games and yet recovered to reach the semifinals opposite one another at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The very first time the two nations ever met, at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, the Slovaks actually upset Canada 3-1 in the round-robin on their debut at a major international tournament; that was before the National Hockey League would shut down to so as to let it’s players participate at the Olympics, however. 

Canada obviously had answered some sort of wake-up call after their loss to the Americans. The Canucks proceeded to pound Germany 8-2 then dust Russia 7-3 on their way to the semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. For the first forty or so minutes against Slovakia, Canada continued to be in complete command and on course to fulfill their mission in Vancouver.

Canada struck for two goals in the opening period. Thirteen and a half minutes in, after fine work from San Jose Sharks star DANY HEATLEY, his NHL teammate, PATRICK MARLEAU, tipped the right point shot from Nashville Predators defenseman SHEA WEBER down and past Slovak goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens. Halak protested a high stick from Marleau but the goal survived scrutiny. Less than two minutes later, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman CHRIS PRONGER’s wrist shot from the left point was deflected by Dallas Stars forward BRENDEN MORROW past Halak for the 2-0 lead.

Canada controlled play for the first two periods as the Slovaks were content to conservatively absorb pressure and play for the counterattack; the Canadians counted a 21-9 lead in shots-on-goal for the first forty minutes.

Late in the second period, Canada would extend the score to 3-0 on the power play with just over three minutes to go in the second period. Anaheim Ducks forward COREY PERRY let go a wrist shot from the top of the left circle which was halted by Halak, but Perry’s teammate RYAN GETZLAFF, while falling to his knees, backhanded the puck top shelf for what would prove to be a critical goal. Slovak captain and defenseman ZDENO CHARA of the Boston Bruins had been left with both Getzlaff as well as Morrow to contend with in front.

While Canada were appearing in the semifinals for the third time in four Olympic tournaments, the Slovaks, meanwhile, had never progressed this far at the Winter Olympics before. In the final twenty minutes, the Slovaks clearly attempted to make the most of their chance.

A little past the halfway point of the third period, Edmonton Oilers defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY, on his 76th career appearance at a major international tournament for Slovakia, made an outstanding play to keep the puck in the zone at the Canadian blueline. Visnovsky immediately thereafter rounded Getzlaff and raced down the right wing. The 33-year-old rearguard centered the puck upon reaching the goal line and put Slovakia on the board when the black disc was deflected behind ROBERTO LUONGO of the Vancouver Canucks into Canada’s goal. 

With just under five minutes remaining in the match, Slovakia drew to within one of the host nation. Veteran NHLer RICHARD ZEDNIK of Russian club Torpedo Yaroslavl, after fine work with the puck on the cycle behind the Canadian goal, circled out front for a backhand attempt at Luongo, who made the save. Standing in front, however, was MICHAL HANDZUS of the Los Angeles Kings, who tapped the puck out of mid-air past Luongo into the top-shelf.

A tense finish followed as the Slovaks, who outshot Canada 12-7 in the final period, continued to press their attack.  

With Halak on the bench for an extra skater as well as dogged forechecking, Slovakia spent the entire final minute on the offensive in Canada’s zone. Chicago Black Hawks star MARIAN HOSSA’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle, after working its way through traffic in front, found itself on the stick of PAVEL DEMITRA of the host city Vancouver Canucks at the right side of the net. With Luongo out of position and the net looming large, however, Demitra missed the mark with Slovakia’s last opportunity.

Breathing a collective sigh of relief, Canada advanced to the Gold Medal Match for the second time in three Olympic tournaments.  

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CANADA 3 – SLOVAKIA 2

Shots-on-goal :  Canada 28 – Slovakia 21

CAN goals :  Marleau, Morrow, Getzlaff

SVK goals :  Visnovsky, Handzus

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Slovakia forward TOMAS KOPECKY (82) of the Chicago Black Hawks hammers Canada defenseman CHRIS PRONGER (20) against the boards in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Kopecky scored the game-winning-goal for Slovakia, his first-ever for his country at a major international event, against Sweden in the quarterfinals. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Slovakia forward TOMAS KOPECKY (82) of the Chicago Black Hawks hammers Canada defenseman CHRIS PRONGER (20) against the boards in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Kopecky scored the game-winning-goal for Slovakia, his first-ever for his country at a major international event, against Sweden in the quarterfinals. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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Slovakia defenseman MILAN JURCINA (68) of the Columbus Blue Jackets cross-checks Canada's SIDNEY CROSBY (87) of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penquins during the Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Slovakia defenseman MILAN JURCINA (68) of the Columbus Blue Jackets cross-checks Canada's SIDNEY CROSBY (87) of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penquins during the Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Canada's JAROME IGINLA (12) fishes for the puck in the skates of Slovakia's MARTIN CIBAK (8) as Canada's SHEA WEBER (6) wipes out at the boards in Vancouver. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Canada's JAROME IGINLA (12) fishes for the puck in the skates of Slovakia's MARTIN CIBAK (8) as Canada's SHEA WEBER (6) wipes out at the boards in Vancouver. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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Slovakia's MARTIN CIBAK (8) of Russian club Spartak Moscow checks Canada's game-winning-goal scorer RYAN GETLZAFF (51) against the boards in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. Cibak played 154 NHL games in four seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization before signing to play in Sweden to start the 2006-07 schedule. The 29-year-old center joined Spartak this season from Swedish club SK Sodertalje. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Slovakia's MARTIN CIBAK (8) of Russian club Spartak Moscow checks Canada's game-winning-goal scorer RYAN GETLZAFF (51) against the boards in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. Cibak played 154 NHL games in four seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization before signing to play in Sweden to start the 2006-07 schedule. The 29-year-old center joined Spartak this season from Swedish club SK Sodertalje. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Slovakia defenseman ANDREJ MESZAROS (14) of the Tampa Bay Lightning mashes Canada forward DANY HEATLEY (15) of the San Jose Sharks into the plexiglass at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. Heatley came into the semifinal match second on Canada with four goals after five games at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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As the ice shavings fly, the Slovak defenseman Jurcina and Canadian forward Heatly converge in a jarring collision along the boards at the Olympic semifinals in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As the ice shavings fly, the Slovak defenseman Jurcina and Canadian forward Heatly converge in a jarring collision along the boards at the Olympic semifinals in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Slovak defender Jurcina (68) and the Canadian attacker Heatley (15) cross swords, er, ah, sticks along the boards at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Slovakia forward TOMAS KOPECKY (82) absorbs an elbow to the back of the neck from Canada forward BRENDEN MORROW (10) at the advertising-free, muraled boards in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Slovakia forward TOMAS KOPECKY (82) absorbs an elbow to the back of the neck from Canada forward BRENDEN MORROW (10) at the advertising-free, muraled boards in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Canadian Dallas Star Morrow (10) makes sure the Slovakian Chicago Black Hawk Kopecky (82) is contained in the Olympic semifinals at the Vancouver Games. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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The Slovak forward Kopecky catches a stick in the mid-section from Canada defenseman SHEA WEBER (6) in pursuit of the puck at the 2010 Winter Olympic semifinal match in Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The Slovak forward Kopecky catches a stick in the mid-section from Canada defenseman SHEA WEBER (6) in pursuit of the puck at the 2010 Winter Olympic semifinal match in Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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The Canadian defenseman Weber dumps the Slovakian forward BRANKO RADIVOJEVIC (92) of Russian club Spartak Moscow in the Olympic semifinals at the Vancouver Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Canada's PATRICK MARLEAU (11) deflects the puck down and through the five-hole of Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK to give Canada a 1-0 lead thirteen and a half minutes into the Olympic semifinal in Vancouver. LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) defends in vain for the Slovaks. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Canada's PATRICK MARLEAU (11) deflects the puck down and through the five-hole of Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK to give Canada a 1-0 lead thirteen and a half minutes into the Olympic semifinal in Vancouver. LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) defends in vain for the Slovaks. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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Slovakia defenseman MARTIN STRBAK (77) follows the black disc through the legs of the goaltender Halak (41) and into the back of the net for the first goal of the game in the Olympic semifinal opposite Canada at Canada Hockey Place. Halak, himself, has his head turned and knows he has been beaten, as well. (Getty Images photo)

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PATRICK MARLEAU (15), at the back of the pack, and the rest of the goal-makers greet Canada's bench after breaking the ice at the 2010 Winter Olympic semifinal match versus Slovakia in Vancouver. DANY HEATLEY (15) had done yeoman work along the boards in the offensive zone; SHEA WEBER (6), leading the procession, generated the point shot for Marleau to deflect. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

PATRICK MARLEAU (15), at the back of the pack, and the rest of the goal-makers greet Canada's bench after breaking the ice at the 2010 Winter Olympic semifinal match versus Slovakia in Vancouver. DANY HEATLEY (15) had done yeoman work along the boards in the offensive zone; SHEA WEBER (6), leading the procession, generated the point shot for Marleau to deflect. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

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Canada forward BRENDEN MORROW (10), with one hand on his hockey stick, is already preparing to celebrate his puck passing the right pad of Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK (41) just inside the goalpost for a 2-0 Canadian lead in the Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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The full emotion of the moment manifests itself as Morrow marks his second goal of the 2010 Vancouver Games after deflecting the defenseman Pronger’s wrist shot from the point past Halak of Slovakia. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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Morrow pumps his fist and has a shout for Canada as the Montreal Canadiens goaltender Halak (41) and Edmonton Oilers defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) have discussions for Slovakia after falling behind 2-0 in the Olympic semifinal at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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23-year-old Canadian center SIDNEY CROSBY (87) of the NHL champion Pittsburgh Penquins eyes the puck in the midst of the hook from Slovakia’s veteran NHL pivot, 37-year-old JOZEF STUMPEL (15) of Kazakh club Barys Astana, in the semifinals at the Vancouver Games. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) 

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Canada’s Crosby (87) shields the puck from the pursuit of Slovakia’s Meszaros (14) in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Canada's BRENDEN MORROW (10) watches the shot of the not-pictured RYAN GETZLAFF go past the left shoulder of Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK with defenseman ZDENO CHARA (33) in front. Getzlaff's late second period goal gave Canada a 3-0 lead in the Olympic semifinal at the Vancouver Games. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Canada's BRENDEN MORROW (10) watches the shot of the not-pictured RYAN GETZLAFF go past the left shoulder of Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK with defenseman ZDENO CHARA (33) in front. Getzlaff's late second period goal gave Canada a 3-0 lead in the Olympic semifinal at the Vancouver Games. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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The Slovakian goaltender Halak (41) turns his head in time to see the puck cross the plane of the goal as Chara (33) can only watch. Canada's Morrow (10) is already in the midst of raising his stick for celebrations. (Matt Slocum/AP)

The Slovakian goaltender Halak (41) turns his head in time to see the puck cross the plane of the goal as Chara (33) can only watch. Canada's Morrow (10) is already in the midst of raising his stick for celebrations. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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The puck to the right rebounds off the net on its way down to the ice surface at Canada Hockey Place in the semifinals at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Matt Slocum/AP)

The puck to the right rebounds off the net on its way down to the ice surface at Canada Hockey Place in the semifinals at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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RYAN GETZLAFF (51), on his knees, raises his stick to signify his backhand shot which has beaten Halak. Getzlaff’s goal, his third of the Olympic tournament, will ultimately provide Canada its passage to the Gold Medal Game at the Winter Games in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images).

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Slovakia were not prepared to go down without a fight in the semifinals at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Here, Slovakian forward RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) hits the deck due to the defending of Canadian rearguard DREW DOUGHTY of the Los Angeles Kings. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Slovakia forward TOMAS KOPECKY (82) of the Chicago Black Hawks is cross-checked by Canada defenseman CHRIS PRONGER (20) of the Philadelphia Flyers in front of the net at the Winter Games semifinal in Vancouver. Looking around for the puck is Canadian netminder ROBERTO LUONGO of the Olympic host city’s Vancouver Canucks. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Slovak Kopecky cuts off the Canadian defenseman Doughty at the muraled pass in the chase for the puck at the 2010 Vancouver Games from Canada Hockey Place. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Slovakia forward ZIGMUND PALFFY (24) of HK 36 Skalica, the top point scorer at the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, arrives to celebrate the late third period goal of Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISONOVSKY (17) in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver. Also on hand to mark Visnovsky's now-even dozen goals for the Slovaks at major international events are JOZEF STUMPEL (15) of Kazakh club Barys Astana, MARTIN STRBAK (77) of Russian club HK MVD Tver and MARCEL HOSSA (91) of Latvian club Dynamo Riga. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Slovakia forward ZIGMUND PALFFY (24) of HK 36 Skalica, the top point scorer at the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, arrives to celebrate the late third period goal of Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISONOVSKY (17) in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver. Also on hand to mark Visnovsky's now-even dozen goals for the Slovaks at major international events are JOZEF STUMPEL (15) of Kazakh club Barys Astana, MARTIN STRBAK (77) of Russian club HK MVD Tver and MARCEL HOSSA (91) of Latvian club Dynamo Riga. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Slovakia’s RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) circles out from behind the net as Canada goaltender ROBERTO LUONGO (1) and defenseman DUNCAN KEITH (2) concentrate late in the third period of the Olympic semifinals inVancouver. Zednik is about to backhand a shot which Luongo will stop, but not handle the subsequent rebound of. Slovak forward MICHAL HANDZUS has himself at the ready behind Keith in front of goal. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Slovakia's MICHAL HANDZUS (26), with his hand high, looks down at the puck he just batted out of mid-air past Canada goaltender ROBERTO LUONGO to trim the deficit to a single goal late in the Olympic semifinal match at Canada Hockey Place. PATRICK MARLEAU (11), DUNCAN KEITH (2) and PATRICE BERGERON (37) are the Canadians who cannot help the seated Luongo. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Slovakia's MICHAL HANDZUS (26), with his hand high, looks down at the puck he just batted out of mid-air past Canada goaltender ROBERTO LUONGO to trim the deficit to a single goal late in the Olympic semifinal match at Canada Hockey Place. PATRICK MARLEAU (11), DUNCAN KEITH (2) and PATRICE BERGERON (37) are the Canadians who cannot help the seated Luongo. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Shortly after narrowing Slovakia’s deficit to one, a hollering Handzus (26) is about to receive adulations from defenseman ZDENO CHARA (33) as well as forwards RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) and MIROSLAV SATAN (18) late in the third period of the 2010 Winter Olympic semifinal from Vancouver. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Canada goaltender ROBERTO LUONGO (1) of the Olympic host city’s National Hockey League Vancouver Canucks lifts his stick high at the final horn of the Winter Games semifinal match at Canada Hockey Place. The Slovaks sustained a desperate attack in the final minute and squandered one final chance when Luongo’s NHL teammate, PAVOL DEMITRA (38), missed a wide open net. Here, Demitra is just behind Canadian defenseman DREW DOUGHTY (8) of the Los Angeles Kings. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Teammates with the Pittsburgh Penquins two springs ago, adversaries in the Stanley Cup finals last season — Slovakia’s MARIAN HOSSA (81) and Canada’s SIDNEY CROSBY (87) meet again in the hand-shake line at the conclusion of the semifinals at the 2010 Olympic Games from Vancouver. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Slovakia 4 – Sweden 3 : Match Report

Slovakia's TOMAS KOPECKY (82) scores the goal that knocks out defending champion Sweden sends Slovakia to the semifinals of the ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Powerless to prevent Kopecky are Swedish defenseman NIKLAS LIDSTROM (5) and goaltender HENRIK LUNDQVIST. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Slovakia's TOMAS KOPECKY (82) scores the goal that knocks out defending champion Sweden sends Slovakia to the semifinals of the ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Powerless to prevent Kopecky are Swedish defenseman NIKLAS LIDSTROM (5) and goaltender HENRIK LUNDQVIST. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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For all the skill and experience found on the rosters of both SLOVAKIA and SWEDEN, not to mention ice hockey history between the two nations involved, it was only appropriate that the very last quarterfinal match at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver should feature a lively and entertaining affair settled by a solitary score.

Following a scoreless and evenly-played first period, the Slovaks drew first blood after the defending Olympic champions took a penalty for too many players seven and a half minutes into the second session.

Capitalizing on the power play, Slovakia’s Chicago Black Hawks star MARIAN HOSSA handed MARIAN GABORIK a perfect, cross-ice pass for the New York Rangers star to one-time past his National Hockey League teammate, HENRIK LUNDQVIST, in the Swedish goal.  

Less than a minute later, the Slovaks surprisingly scored yet again.

Intercepting a pass in his own defensive zone, Slovakia’s aging ZIGMUND PALFFY of HK 36 Skalica sent Torpedo Yaroslavl’s RICHARD ZEDNIK away on a rush. Palffy paid the price and received a devastating hit, but the former NHL scoring star’s quick pass had been huge. The NHL veteran Zednik sped into the Swedish zone down the right, drew the lone defender and cut the puck across for defenseman ANDREJ SEKERA of the Buffalo Sabres to shoot past Lundqvist. 

Sweden held a wide 12-4 lead in shots-on-goal for the second period and would respond, however, with the leadership of a veteran.

The 37-year-old, two-time Olympic gold medalist PETER FORSBERG of Mo Do Ornskoldsvik, with a backhand flip from behind the goal, found PATRIC HORNQVIST of the Nashville Preadators in front. With a backhand of his own past Slovak goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens, the 22-year-old Hornqvist halfed Slovakia’s lead.

Almost immediately thereafter, with Forsberg steaming for the net, Detroit Red Wings star HENRIK ZETTERBERG had his centering pass deflect off Slovak defenseman MILAN JURCINA in front past Halak to pull Sweden level at 2-2 with five and a half minutes remaining until the second intermission.

Unfortunately for Sweden, Atlanta Thrashers defenseman TOBIAS ENSTROM took a penalty for tripping with less than two minutes to go and Slovakia promptly scored. PAVOL DEMITRA of the Olympic host city’s Vancouver Canucks, who produced the shootout winner for Slovakia versus Russia earlier in the tournament, struck again. The 35-year-old wing, who has missed most of this NHL season due to injury, cannoned a slapshot from the top of the left face-off circle over Lundqvist’s shoulder to send Slovakia back in front just before the break.

Nine minutes into the final frame, Slovakia again went up by two thanks to a goal from the unlikely TOMAS KOPECKY of the Chicago Black Hawks. Demitra and Marian Hossa broke into the zone on a two-one-one break; Kopecky slid his Chicago teammate’s rebound past the prone Lundqvist for his first goal at the Vancouver Games. Kopecky has four goals in 58 NHL games for the Black Hawks this winter.

Veteran DANIEL ALFREDSSON of the Ottawa Senators managed to draw the Swedes within one less than a minute later to set the stage for a tense and dramatic finish as Sweden pressed their attack. Indeed, the Swedes posted a lopsided 29-14 shots-on-goal total for the contest. But, Halak and the Slovaks were able to hang on for the victory and a place in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Slovakia, who failed to get past the preliminary stage at both the 1998 Nagano Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, have reached the medal round for the very first time in Vancouver.

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SLOVAKIA 4 – SWEDEN 3

Shots-on-goal :  Sweden 29 – Slovakia 14

SVK goals :  Gaborik, Sekera, Demitra, Kopecky

SWE goals :  Hornqvist, Zetterberg, Alfredsson

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Slovak defenseman MILAN JURCINA (68) deposits Swedish forward SAMUEL PAHLSSON into Sweden’s bench as Pahlsson’s teammates scramble to protect themselves. Jurcina, who started the current 2009-10 season with the Washington Capitals, and Pahlsson are teammates with the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Slovakia defender ANDREJ MESZAROS (14) of the Tampa Lightning bops Sweden forward HENRIK ZETTERBERG (40) of the Detroit Red Wings at the Slovak bench in the Olympic quarterfinal match at Canada Hockey Place. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)  

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Slovakia defenseman and quarterfinal goal-scorer ANDREJ SEKERA (44) of the Buffalo Sabres squeezes Swedish center NICKLAS BACKSTROM of the Washington Capitals against the boards in Vancouver. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Slovakia defenseman and quarterfinal goal-scorer ANDREJ SEKERA (44) of the Buffalo Sabres squeezes Swedish center NICKLAS BACKSTROM of the Washington Capitals against the boards in Vancouver. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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to be continued…

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Slovakia 4 – Norway 3 : Match Report

Boston Bruins forward MIROSLAV SATAN (18) receives spoils from Slovakia teammates TOMAS KOPECKY and RICHARD ZEDNIK (left) after Satan's third period goal versus Norway in the qualification round of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Norwegian defenseman JONAS HOLOS observes. Slovakia narrowly defeated a stubborn Norway 4-3 to earn a place in the quarterfinals at the Vancouver Games. (Julie Jacobson/AP photo)

Boston Bruins forward MIROSLAV SATAN (18) receives spoils from Slovakia teammates TOMAS KOPECKY and RICHARD ZEDNIK (left) after Satan's third period goal versus Norway in the qualification round of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Norwegian defenseman JONAS HOLOS observes. Slovakia narrowly defeated a stubborn Norway 4-3 to earn a place in the quarterfinals at the Vancouver Games. (Julie Jacobson/AP photo)

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Another affair which might have appeared to be a mismatch produces another outstanding evening of late-night entertainment from the 2010 Winter Olympics, this the qualification round match featuring NORWAY and SLOVAKIA from Vancouver.

As one would have expected, Slovakia struck first seven minutes into the match. Parked in front on the power play, Los Angeles Kings center MICHAL HANDZUS hacked home the rebound of New York Rangers wing MARIAN GABORIK’s wrist shot from the right face-off circle for the always-important first goal of the game.

Norway defender OLE KRISTIAN TOLLEFSEN of the Detroit Red Wings had been assessed a five-minute major for checking to the head and neck area as well as the automatic game misconduct with accompanying ejection from the match for his shot on Slovakia’s LUBOS BARTECKO of Swedish club BK Farjestad Karlstad.

Less than three minutes later, still with the man-advantage, Slovakia doubled the margin when Gaborik re-directed the shot/pass of the Vancouver Canucks’ PAVOL DEMITRA past PAL GROTNES of IF Stjernen Fredrikstad in the Norwegian goal.

Norway were not prepared to just pack it in, nevertheless, despite being outshot by the Slovaks 21-2 for the first period.

With roughly two minutes to go in the opening session, Slovakia’s multi-millionaire MARIAN HOSSA of the Chicago Black Hawks raced down the left wing into the Norwegian zone but was dispossesed of the disc by defenseman JONAS HOLOS of Swedish club BK Farjestad Karlstad. Holos’ clearance was ultimately chased down by pint-sized MATS ZUCCARELLO AASEN of Swedish side Mo Do Ornskoldsvik just inside the Slovak blueline. Aasen attempted to center for the on-rushing PATRICK THORESEN of Russian club Salavat Yulayev Ufa, but this was blocked by Slovak rearguard MILAN JURCINA of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The biscuit bounced straight back to Aasen, however, and the 22-year-old wing promptly whipped a wrist shot past Slovak goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens to give some spark to Norway.

Slovakia responded immediately with their third power play goal of the period forty-six seconds thereafter. RICHARD ZEDNIK of Russian club Torpedo Yaroslavl, again, unhindered in front of net, snapped the centering pass of Kazakh club Barys Astana’s Josef STUMPEL past Grotnes for another two-goal Slovak lead. 

Seven minutes into the second period, the Norwegians again whittled the lead to one. Hat trick hero TORE VIKINGSTAD of German club EC Hannover one-timed a smart pass from Thoresen behind Halak; Norway enjoyed their most productive period in the middle frame by firing off ten shots-on-goal.

Hard work and hustle, quite literally, would pay off in the end. Accepting a pass from Aasen along the right boards at the goal line, ANDERS BASTIANSEN of Swedish club BK Farjestad Karlstad circled around and from the face-off circle fired a wrister past the hapless Halak with exactly one second to go in the second period for a dramatic 3-3 equalizer.

An overwhelming 40-19 disparity in shots for the game would finally catch up with the Norwegians in the last twenty minutes; ironically, Norway outshot Slovakia seven to six in the third period.

Nearly nine minutes into the final frame, Slovakia’s MIROSLAV SATAN settled matters for good with his second goal in as many contests at the Vancouver Games. Edmonton Oilers defenseman LUBOMIR VISOVSKY, on the attack behind the Norwegian net, centered for Satan, who was out of contract all season until the Boston Bruins signed the 35-year-old experienced NHL veteran just after the New Year. 

Halak held the fort the rest of the way — and Slovakia survived.

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SLOVAKIA 4 – NORWAY 3

Shots-on-goal :  Slovakia 40 – Norway 19

SVK goals :  Handzus, Gaborik, Zednik, Satan

NOR goals :  Zuccarello Aasen, Vikingstad, Bastiansen

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to be continued…

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Slovakia 6 – Latvia 0 : Match Report

Slovakia's MARIAN HOSSA (81) receives the puck past the reach of Latvia defenseman ARVIDS REKIS (3) of German club EHC Wolfsburg. The Chicago Black Hawks star will soon deposit the pass from Josef Stumpel into the Latvian cage for his second goal in as many matches at the Vancouver Games. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Slovakia's MARIAN HOSSA (81) receives the puck past the reach of Latvia defenseman ARVIDS REKIS (3) of German club EHC Wolfsburg. The Chicago Black Hawks star will soon deposit the pass from Josef Stumpel into the Latvian cage for his second goal in as many matches at the Vancouver Games. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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SLOVAKIA got goals from six different players as undermanned LATVIA were clearly outclassed in a 6-0 shutout loss in the final Group B match for both teams at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman LUBOMIR VISONVSKY stated Slovakia’s intentions early with a one-time blast from the point on the power play following a JOSEF STUMPEL pass just 2:44 into the contest.

Torpedo Yaroslavl’s former NHL veteran RICHARD ZEDNIK completed a nice Slovak rush up ice with a rising slapshot through traffic which beat Latvia goaltender EDGARS MASALSKIS of Dynamo Riga for a two-goal lead halfway through the first period.

Under three minutes to play in the opening twenty, another player with piles of NHL experience, the 37-year-old Stumpel of Kazakhstan club Barys Astana, extended Slovakia’s advantage to 3-0 with a one-timer from the right face-off circle via a pass from 37-year-old ZIGMUND PALFFY of HK 36 Skalica.

The fourth Slovak goal in the second period was a clinical demonstration of how to move the puck down the ice on the power play. A long pass from Chara deep in his own zone allowed Hossa to spring Stumpel with a first-time, cross-ice pass at center. After dancing around Latvian defender GEORGIJS PUJACS of Russian club Sibir Novosibirsk, Stumpel softly dished to Chicago Black Hawks star MARIAN HOSSA, who finished with ease for his second goal in as many matches at the Vancouver Games.

Los Angeles Kings center MICHAL HANDZUS stole the puck from Latvian forward ALEKSEJS SIROKOVS of Russian club Amur Khabarovsk deep in the Latvia zone and cut in front of goal to shoot past Masalskis with a less than eight minutes to go in the second period to widen Slovakia’s margin to five.

Spartak Moscow defenseman IVAN BARANKA, with a blast from the left point that whistled perfectly past Masalskis into the top right hand corner of the net, closed Slovakia’s account with less than three minutes remaining in the match.

Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens followed his outstanding display versus Russia with 21 saves against Latvia for the shutout in an Olympic ice hockey contest.

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SLOVAKIA 6 – LATVIA 0

Shots-on-goal :  Slovakia 37 – Latvia 21

SVK goals :  Visnovsky, Zednik, Stumpel, Mn. Hossa, Handzus, Baranka

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Latvia forward HERBERTS VASILJEVS of German club EV Krefeld hammers Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) into the boards at the Winter Games in Vancouver. (AP photo)

Latvia forward HERBERTS VASILJEVS of German club EV Krefeld hammers Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) into the boards at the Winter Games in Vancouver. (AP photo)

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Slovakia's MICHAL HANDZUS (26) eyes the puck as Lativa defenseman GEORGIJS PUJACS (71) loses his balance at the Winter Games in Vancouver. (AP photo)

Slovakia's MICHAL HANDZUS (26) eyes the puck as Lativa defenseman GEORGIJS PUJACS (71) loses his balance at the Winter Games in Vancouver. (AP photo)

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Slovakia's LUBOS BARTECKO (23) of BK Farjestad Karlstad battles for the puck with veteran Latvian international ALEKSANDRS NIZIVIJS (17) of Dynamo Riga in Vancouver. (AP photo)

Slovakia's LUBOS BARTECKO (23) of BK Farjestad Karlstad battles for the puck with veteran Latvian international ALEKSANDRS NIZIVIJS (17) of Dynamo Riga in Vancouver. (AP photo)

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Slovakia's PAVOL DEMITRA (38) of the Olympic host city's NHL club, the Vancouver Canucks, is thwarted by Latvia goaltender EDGAR MASALSKIS at the 2010 Winter Games. Demitra scored the dramatic winner for Slovakia in their penalty-shot victory over Russia earlier in the tournament. (AP photo)

Slovakia's PAVOL DEMITRA (38) of the Olympic host city's NHL club, the Vancouver Canucks, is thwarted by Latvia goaltender EDGAR MASALSKIS at the 2010 Winter Games. Demitra scored the dramatic winner for Slovakia in their penalty-shot victory over Russia earlier in the tournament. (AP photo)

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Slovakia goal-scorer and one-time Florida Panther RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) of Kontinental Hockey League club Torpedo Yaroslavl is pursued by Lativa defenseman GEORGIJS PUJACS (71) of KHL club Sibir Novosibirsk. (Reuters photo)

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Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) is received by MARTIN STRBAK (77) and JOSEF STUMPEL (15) after opening the scoring on the power play early in the match versus Latvia in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Latvian goaltender EDGARS MASALSKIS (31) is beaten yet again in Vancouver as Slovakia celebrate and Masalskis' Dynamo Riga teammate, MARTINS CIPULIS (47), is left with little consolation in Vancouver. (Reuters photo)

Latvian goaltender EDGARS MASALSKIS (31) is beaten yet again in Vancouver as Slovakia celebrate and Masalskis' Dynamo Riga teammate, MARTINS CIPULIS (47), is left with little consolation in Vancouver. (Reuters photo)

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Slovakia’s King MICHAL HANDZUS (26) celebrates his goal after stealing the puck from Latvian forward ALEKSEJS SIROKOVS (88) in the third period of Slovakia’s 6-0 shutout victory in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Slovakia 2 – Russia 1 : Match Report

Slovakia's PAVOL DEMITRA (38) flips the puck past Russia goaltender ILYA BRYZGALOV (30) for the game-winning-goal in an epic penalty-shot shootout which went seven rounds. Slovakia, who defeated Russia 5-3 in the round-robin four years ago at the Turin Games, scored yet another victory over their Eastern European rivals this year in Vancouver. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Slovakia's PAVOL DEMITRA (38) flips the puck past Russia goaltender ILYA BRYZGALOV (30) for the game-winning-goal in an epic penalty-shot shootout which went seven rounds. Slovakia, who defeated Russia 5-3 in the round-robin four years ago at the Turin Games, scored yet another victory over their Eastern European rivals this year in Vancouver. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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For the all the offensive firepower fielded by the two rival nations, RUSSIA and SLOVAKIA, naturally, it was a classic goaltending duel which promptly ensued in the Group B match at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Slovakia’s JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens, shaking off a lackluster first-game versus the Czech Republic, and Russia’s ILYA BRYZGALOV of the Phoenix Coyotes, making his first start at this year’s Olympic tournament, both stood out for their respective national teams.

Halak halted 36 Russian shots while Bryzgalov brushed off 32 Slovak attempts to score in a match which required seven rounds in the penalty-shot shootout to determine a winner.

Former Pittsburgh Penquins first round pick and veteran Russian international ALEXEI MOROZOV of Ak Bars Kazan profited from a deflected puck to score his second goal at the Vancouver Games five and a half minutes into the second period.

Chicago Black Hawks star MARIAN HOSSA, however, pulled Slovakia level almost halfway through the third period after yeoman’s work from PAVOL DEMITRA.

The shootout, befitting the match which had ensued, itself became a battle of the netminders.

Slovakia’s aging JOSEF STUMPEL of Kazakh club Barys Astana in the Kontinental Hockey League started the shootout and promptly scored.

Washington Capitals wing ALEXANDER OVECHKIN accounted for Russia’s only goal on his first attempt to square the score in the second round; five consecutive Russian failures versus Halak followed including those of Stanley Cup champions PAVEL DATSYUK and EVGENY MALKIN. Ovechkin ultimately took three of Russia’s first six shots for coach VYACHESLAV BYKOV’s squad.

And so it was left for Vancouver Canucks veteran PAVOL DEMITRA to become the hometown hero.

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SLOVAKIA 2 – RUSSIA 1 — (aet, shootout)

Shots-on-goal :  Russia 37 – Slovakia 33

SVK goal :  Mn. Hossa

RUS goal :  Morozov

Shootout :

SVK — Stumpel (1/2), Demitra (1/2), Mn. Hossa (0/1), Handzus (0/1), Gaborik (0/1)

RUS — Ovechkin (1/3), Morozov (0/1), Datsyuk (0/1), Kovalchuk (0/1), Malkin (0/1)

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Russia’s ALEXANDER OVECHKIN (8) buries Slovakia’s LUBOS BARTECKO along the boards at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Another angle of Ovechkin freight-training Bartecko (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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PAVOL DEMITRA signals his game-winning-goal in sudden-death for Slovakia. The 35-year-old, in his 16th National Hockey League season, has played just 11 games (1 go 3 as, 4 pts) this season for the Vancouver Canucks due to injury. Demitra is a veteran of 830 NHL games (302 go 454 as, 756 pts) with the Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild in addition to Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Demitra (38) and the Slovaks rejoice with their sudden-death shootout victory over the Russians in Vancouver. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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The Russians, including captain and goal-scorer ALEXEI MOROZOV (95), fall to Slovakia for the second consecutive time at the Winter Olympic Games. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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Czech Rep 3 – Slovakia 1 : Match Report

Czech Republic star JAROMIR JAGR (68) peels away after depositing the puck past Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK. Jagr's second period strike proved to be the game-winning-goal in the Czech Republic's 3-1 conquest at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Czech Republic star JAROMIR JAGR (68) peels away after depositing the puck past Slovakia goaltender JAROSLAV HALAK. Jagr's second period strike proved to be the game-winning-goal in the Czech Republic's 3-1 conquest at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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The country of Czechoslovakia always consistently iced strong teams at the Winter Olympics.

The separate nations of the CZECH REPUBLIC and SLOVAKIA still play high-quality hockey, as was on full display for the world to see in the Group B opener between the two at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

In the end, goaltender TOMAS VOKOUN turned aside 34 shots and 1998 Olympic gold medalist JAROMIR JAGR scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and then assisted on some insurance in the third as the Czech Republic survived arch-rival Slovakia 3-1.

New Jersey Devils wing PATRIK ELIAS deflected Salavat Yulayev Ufa defenseman MIROSLAV BLATAK’s wrist shot past Slovakia goalie JAROSLAV HALAK of the Montreal Canadiens roughly halfway through the evenly-played first period.

Slovakia, who ended with a 35-24 advantage for shots-on-goal, tied the game just 21 seconds in the middle frame when New York Ranger MARIAN GABORIK finished from the slot after a nice setup from Chicago Black Hawk MARIAN HOSSA.

But, the Czechs netted two late-period goals in the second which would directly determine the final result. Slavia Prague’s ROMAN CERVENKA’s clever pass sent Jagr in clear to shoot past Halak with roughly two minutes remaining to restore the Czech lead. Jagr then figured prominently in a play finished off by Montreal Canadiens center TOMAS PLEKANEC, who scored at the expense of his club teammate Halak with just two seconds left on the clock.

Slovakia applied serious pressure in the final period and posted a 12-2 lead in shots on goal but were unable to put another puck past Vokoun and, thus, fell to their cousins from the Czech Republic for the third time at the Winter Olympics.

With the triumph, the Czech Republic also ran its record to 9-2 all-time versus Slovakia at major international tournaments.

With a goal and an assist in the match, Jagr pushed his career totals to 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points from 19 games at the Winter Olympics.

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CZECH REPUBLIC 3 – SLOVAKIA 1

Shots-on-goal :  Slovakia 35 – Czech Republic 24

CZE goals :  Elias, Jagr, Plekanec

SVK goals :  Gaborik

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Czech Republic goaltender TOMAS VOKOUN turns away a scoring attempt as teammates DAVID KREJCI (46) and PAVEL KUBINA (77) deal with Slovak goal-scorer MARIAN HOSSA (81) hunting the rebound. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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Slovakia defenseman LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (17) of the Edmonton Oilers and Czech Republic forward JOSEF VASICEK (63) of Russian club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl conduct a board meeting at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. (CTK photo)

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Czech goalie TOMAS VOKOUN (29) of the Florida Panthers tangles with former National Hockey League teammate RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) of Slovakia. Zednik, a veteran of 745 NHL games, was with Vokoun in Florida for two seasons before signing this summer to play for Russian club Torpedo Yaroslavl in the Kontinental Hockey League. (CTK photo)

Czech goalie TOMAS VOKOUN (29) of the Florida Panthers tangles with former National Hockey League teammate RICHARD ZEDNIK (20) of Slovakia. Zednik, a veteran of 745 NHL games, was with Vokoun in Florida for two seasons before signing this summer to play for Russian club Torpedo Yaroslavl in the Kontinental Hockey League. (CTK photo)

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Slovakia – Final Olympic Roster

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SLOVAKIA — final roster for 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

Coach — Jan FILC —— Asst — Frantisek Hossa, Lubomir Pokovic

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Goaltenders

  • # 31 — Peter BUDAJ — COLORADO
  • # 35 — Rostislav STANA — Severstal Cherepovets
  • # 41 — Jaroslav HALAK — MONTREAL

Defensemen

  • #   7 — Ivan BARANKA — Spartak Moscow
  • # 14 — Andrej MESZAROS — TAMPA BAY
  • # 17 — Lubomir VISNOVSKY — EDMONTON
  • # 33 — Zdeno CHARA — BOSTON
  • # 44 — Andrej SEKERA — BUFFALO
  • # 68 — Milan JURCINA — COLUMBUS
  • # 77 — Martin STRBAK — HK MVD Balashikha

Forwards

  • #   8 — Martin CIBAK — Spartak Moscow
  • # 10 — Marian GABORIK — NY RANGERS
  • # 15 — Jozef STUMPEL — Barys Astana
  • # 18 — Miroslav SATAN — BOSTON
  • # 20 — Richard ZEDNIK — Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
  • # 23 — Lubos BARTECKO — BK Farjestad Karlstad
  • # 24 — Zigmund PALFFY — HK 36 Skalica
  • # 26 — Michal HANDZUS — LOS ANGELES
  • # 38 — Pavol DEMITRA — VANCOUVER
  • # 81 — Marian HOSSA — CHICAGO
  • # 82 — Tomas KOPECKY — CHICAGO
  • # 91 — Marcel HOSSA — Dynamo Riga
  • # 92 — Branko RADIVOJEVIC — Spartak Moscow

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Note — After the New Year, Slovak international LUBOS BARTECKO transferred from Nationalliga A club SC Bern in Switzerland to BK Farjestad Karlstad of Sweden’s Elitserien.

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Czech Republic vs Slovakia – Match History

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Match history at major international events :

CZECH REPUBLIC — versus — SLOVAKIA

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First meeting — 16 years ago — 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway

Overall record — Czech Republic 8 — Slovakia 2

Winter Olympics record — Czech Republic 2 — Slovakia 0

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  • 1994 — OG – Lillehammer —————– 7-1 – Czech Rep
  • 1998 — WC – Zurich ———————— 1-0 – Czech Rep
  • 1999 — WC – Oslo ————————— 8-2 – Czech Rep
  • 2000 — WC – St. Petersburg ————– 5-3 – Czech Rep
  • 2001 — WC – Hannover ——————- 2-0 – Czech Rep
  • 2003 — WC – Helsinki ———————- 4-2 – Slovakia
  • 2005 — WC – Vienna ———————– 5-1 – Czech Rep
  • 2006 — OG – Turin ————————- 3-1 – Czech Rep
  • 2007 — WC – Moscow ——————— 3-2 – Slovakia
  • 2009 — WC – Zurich ———————— 8-0 – Czech Rep

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Slovakia : Satan Bags First For Bruins

MIROSLAV SATAN (81), right, notes the occasion of his first goal for the Boston Bruins with DAVID KREJCI (46), left, and BLAKE WHEELER, center.

MIROSLAV SATAN (81), right, notes the occasion of his first goal for the Boston Bruins with DAVID KREJCI (46), left, and BLAKE WHEELER, center.

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Recent signing MIROSLAV SATAN scored his 355th career National Hockey League goal eight minutes into his second game with the BOSTON BRUINS last night in Beantown.

Satan’s first goal for the Bruins could not prevent Boston from bowing last night in NHL action, however. After falling behind by a pair in the first period, the Chicago Black Hawks stormed back and accounted for the rest of the night’s scoring in a 5-2 victory at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Satan, who was named to Slovakia’s Olympic squad prior to Christmas despite not having a club contract all season, was added as a free agent by the Bruins at the New Year.

Satan, in addition to his goal for Boston against Chicago, totaled 18:19 of ice time versus the Black Hawks. The 35-year-old veteran skated 14:06 a few nights ago in his Boston debut as the Bruins battled the Ottawa Senators.

Satan, 35, is Slovakia’s all-time leader at major international tournaments with both 37 goals and 70 points from 78 games.

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