By Josh Ferguson
Slovakia booked a quarterfinal match against Sweden with a narrow 4-3 victory over Norway at Canada Hockey Place on Tuesday.
Marian Gaborik and Richard Zednik each had a goal and an assist to push the Slovaks into the next round of the tournament.
The game opened with a scary elbow by Norway’s Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to the head of Lubos Bartecko. The Slovak’s helmet flew off from the impact of Tollefsen’s elbow and his head hit the ice when he came crashing down. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and suffered a concussion and a gash to the back of his head.
Tollefsen was ejected from the game and the Slovaks went to work on a five-minute man advantage.
Slovakia made the Norwegians pay by collecting goals from Michal Handzus and Gaborik on the ensuing power play to take an early two-goal lead.
Despite getting outshot 21-2 in the first period, Mats Zuccarello Aasen got Norway on the board before the intermission when his cross-crease pass was blocked by Milan Jurcina, but landed right back on Aasen’s stick, allowing him to snap a shot past Slovak goalie Jaroslav Halak.
After Zednik restored the two-goal lead with another power play marker with a minute left in the first, Norway tied the game on two goals in the second period from Tore Vikingstad and Anders Bastiansen. The game-tying blast from Bastiansen was a buzzer-beater that zipped over the shoulder of Halak with one-tenth of a second on the clock.
With Bartecko out of the game, Slovakia looked to their bench to fill the void in their forward unit. Veteran Miroslav Satan was called upon and the 35-year-old answered by burying the game-winner on the doorstep of the Norwegian goal just before the midway point of the third.
Norway pulled their goalie for a feverish final minute, but the Slovaks weathered the storm to solidify the 4-3 victory.
Halak stopped 16 of the 19 shots he faced for the win, while Norwegian keeper Pal Grotnes made 36 saves on 40 shots.
Slovakia has a tough task ahead of them in their quarterfinal matchup when they run into Henrik Lundqvist and the undefeated Swedes on Wednesday. Lundqvist has yet to allow a goal in two games of the 2010 tournament.
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