Slovenia uses third-period flurry to upend Slovakia

The Sports NetworkFebruary 15, 2014 

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Anze Kopitar was one of three third- period scorers for Slovenia to help the country earn its first ever Olympic hockey win in a 3-1 victory over Slovakia in Saturday's game at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Kopitar, the first Slovenian to ever play in the NHL, joined countrymen Rok Ticar and Tomaz Razingar as goal-scorers to help Slovakia improve to 1-1 in Group A play at the Sochi Games. Slovenia had opened its first Olympic hockey tournament with a 5-2 loss to Russia on Thursday.

Robert Kristan made 27 saves for Slovenia in the upset win and he came just 18 seconds away from posting a shutout.

Tomas Jurco scored the lone goal for Slovakia, which fell to 0-2 in the tournament after getting slammed 7-1 by the United States on Thursday.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak of the NHL's St. Louis Blues surrendered three goals on 31 shots in the loss.

Neither team was able to score over the first two periods, but Slovenia received the break it needed when Slovakia's Andrej Meszaros was whistled for cross-checking 1:36 into the third period. With time winding down on the man advantage, Slovakia defenseman Andrej Sekera turned the puck over along the end boards to Ziga Jeglic. Jeglic then found Ticar in front of the net and the latter player sent a backhander between Halak's pads.

The Slovenes then made it a 3-0 game with a pair of quick goals near the midway point of the third. Razingar tallied at 8:59 of the final period and Kopitar tallied just 23 seconds later to give Slovenia a three-goal cushion.

Razingar scored on a one-time blast from the lower left circle. Halak had made a save on a shot from the right side before the puck trickled out to Razingar, who wound up and ripped the puck into the net.

Kopitar made it 3-0 at the 9:22 mark after a terrific individual effort. The Los Angeles Kings star held the puck along the right boards and stickhandled all the way to the left circle before patiently wristing a shot past Halak.

The score remained 3-0 until Jurco converted on a power-play for the Slovaks with only 18 seconds left in the contest.

Like the score, the shots were even through two periods with each team registering 19 shots on net at the end of 40 minutes. Slovakia had a trio of power-play chances in the second period, but was unable to convert on any of them.

The Slovaks carried the final 44 seconds of a man advantage into the third before Ticar broke the scoreless tie with his power-play marker for Slovenia.

Both teams will be back in action Sunday, when Slovenia takes on the U.S. and Slovakia faces off with Russia.

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