May 9, 2012

Chara chips in, helps Slovaks earn second straight win

By Jesse Connolly

After a rough start to the IIHF World Championship, Team Slovakia has rebounded with back-to-back wins. 

Zdeno Chara helped Slovakia earn six points in games on back-to-back days against Team USA and Kazakhstan. (Getty Images)

Following consecutive losses to begin the tournament, including a 3-2 setback against Canada and a 1-0 blanking at the hands of Finland, the Slovaks handed Team USA their first loss on Monday with a 4-2 victory.

On Tuesday, Slovakia made it two straight wins, narrowly defeating Kazakhstan by a score of 4-2.

Alternate captain Dominik Granak got Slovakia on the board first, tallying just 1:08 into the contest, but Kazakhstan knotted things up at the 11:18 mark when Yevgeni Rymarev beat Jan Laco.

After helping Slovakia kill off two penalties in the second period, captain Zdeno Chara helped set up a power play goal from Libor Hudacek to put his team up 2-1. The assist gave the Bruins captain his first point of the tournament.

The Kazakhs wouldn’t go away easy though, as they tied things up at 2-2 early in the third on a goal from Konstantin Pushkaryov.

Tomas Kopecky stepped up for Slovakia and helped them pull away. The Florida Panthers forward tallied with 11:42 left in regulation and, with Kazakhstan shorthanded due to a too-many-men penalty, added a power-play goal with 13 ticks left in the contest to seal the deal.

Chara finished the day with a game-high 22:14 of ice time. He led all skaters with 27:05 of ice time in Slovakia’s 4-2 win over the United States on Monday and is now plus-3 in the last two games.

Slovakia, currently tied for third with Finland in the Helsinki group with six points (2-0-0-2), will face Belarus (1-0-0-2, 3 points) on Saturday.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.