Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports
For the first 40 minutes, no one scored. It was certainly a welcomed change for the Slovakians who got hammered 7-1 two days ago at the hands of the United States. As for Slovenia, like their opener versus Russia, they found themselves in another very close game. Both teams had a plethora of shots and while Jaroslav Halak rebounded nicely for Slovakia, it was Robert Kristan who stole the show in the Slovenian net.
In the first, the only two penalties went to Slovakia but Halak stood his ground despite his country being shorthanded. In the opening frame, fans in attendance witnessed a shootout as the Slovenes edged Slovakia in shots 11-10. But after the firsr 20 minutes, there were no goals.
In the second, it was the Slovenians who spent time in the penalty box as Slovakia found themselves on the power play three different times. But the aforementioned Kristan stood his ground stopping all nine shots he faced to keep the game scoreless. Halak was nearly just as good stopping eight in the middle frame.
After a back-and-forth affair with no end results to show for, the scoring deadlock was finally broken in the third.
3:23 into the third while on the man-advantage, Slovenia's Roc Ticar scored to put his country out in front. Ziga Jeglic, who scored both of Slovenia's goals on Thursday set Ticar up from behind the net for the tally. But the Slovenes weren't done there.
A little over five minutes later, Jaroslav Halak gave up a big rebound that big Zdeno Chara uncharastically lost in his feet. The gaffe led to Slovenian captain Tomasz Razingar scoring to make it 2-0. But just 23 seconds later, it was the only NHLer on the Slovenian roster who made some magic.
Anze Kopitar made some beautiful moves seemingly only befitting of an NHLer before beating Halak to put the underdogs up by three. Slovenians who nearly packed the Bolshoy Ice Dome were singing and dancing in the stands, knowing that their country was just a half-period away from pulling off the upset and making their own history in the process.
Slovenia kept their eyes on the prize so to speak and despite Kristan's shutout bid being spoiled with just 17.8 seconds remaining in regulation, pulled off the big win. With that, Slovenia improves to 1-1-0 in the tournament and after today's USA/Russia game will find themselves tied for second in their group. Not bad for a country who was supposed to simply be "happy to be there."
But the biggest test still awaits as Slovenia wraps up their preliminary schedule on Sunday morning against the United States. The puck drops at 4:30am PST (7:30pm EST).