Anze Kopitar earned an assist on a game-tying second period Jan Mursak goal, but Norway scored twice later in the period to claim a 3-1 victory at the World Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Friday. Over a team-high 21:26 of ice time, Kopitar also took one shot and registered a plus-one rating. Slovenia was without Boštjan Goličič – Martin Jones’ teammate for two years at WHL-Calgary – after the forward was suspended for one game due to his checking from behind infraction against Finland.
Yet to record a point at the tournament, Slovenia (0-0-0-5) faces a battle to avoid relegation. With today’s win, Norway (5 GP, 2-0-0-3, 6 points) has separated itself from Denmark (5 GP, 0-0-1-4, 1 point) and Slovenia. Slovenia will face the United States on Sunday before Monday’s big game against Denmark. Having lost to the United States on Friday, the Danes finish the tournament against Norway on Saturday and Slovenia on Monday.
In the evening, Brock Nelson’s unassisted second period goal stood up as the game-winner as Connor Hellebuyck made 21 saves in a 1-0 shutout. Trevor Lewis took two shots in a plus-one performance, and his 17:38 of ice time led all team forwards. In an uncharacteristic showing, he was also whistled for tripping and interference minors. The Americans out-shot the Danes 41-21.
With the win, the United States (4-0-0-1) catapulted over three teams to the top of the tight Group B standings with 12 points. Belarus (10 points), Finland (9 points), Russia (9 points) and Slovakia (7 points) all have a game in hand on the Americans, while sixth place Norway (6 points) has also played five games. The top four teams from each group will qualify for the playoff round.
On Friday, Marian Gaborik and Slovakia face Finland in Ostrava, while Jake Muzzin, Tyler Toffoli, Martin Jones and Canada face France in Prague.