Ryan Strome scored twice and defenceman Morgan Rielly had a goal and two assists as Canada overcame two game misconducts and a pair of two-goal deficits to rally past Slovakia 6-3 at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
The Slovaks struck early in the first period with Marko Dano cashing in with traffic in front of Canadian goaltender Malcolm Subban for his first goal of the tournament.
Things didn't get any better for Team Canada after J.C. Lipon received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for making contact to the head of forward Tomas Mikus. With a lengthy power play, Mikus cashed in and gave the Slovaks a two-goal lead.
"I think we knew what to expect," Rielly explained of the Slovaks' first period play. "After the first 20 minutes we knew we had to go in there and play better."
Strome finally got Canada on the board in the second period, but the team got into a deeper hole just four minutes later when forward Anthony Camara took another five and a game for charging after a hit along the boards on Patrik Luza. The Slovakian blueliner - who had his head down as he was hit - had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.
"In my eyes, the two hits were dirty," Mikus said. "I didn't see the second one, so I can't comment on it, but there was...blood in the face so not clean. Just dirty. We scored two fast goals. We should have played defence better, but stupid penalties and we paid the fine."
The Canadian squad, already missing forward Boone Jenner who served the second game of a three-game suspension, will have 11 forwards for their game against the U.S., as Lipon was handed a one-game suspension early Saturday.
The IIHF indicated after the game that there will be no supplementary discipline review for Camara.
"There was a lot of frustration, a lot of questions on our bench as to what is acceptable and what isn't," said Team Canada head coach Steve Spott. "The challenge for us is to adjust to the standard that's here. But that's something that our supervisors will have to deal with and we'll deal with it from there. Our job is to make sure we keep the focus of our hockey club."
With Strome going to the box for tripping just over two minutes into the penalty kill, Dano scored his second goal of the game to regain the two-goal lead. But with Canada getting their own 5-on-3 shortly after, Rielly made the score 3-2, beating goaltender Adam Nagy for his first goal of the tournament.
With Slovak forward Martin Reway sent to the penalty box for cross-checking, Canada's power play clicked again on a goal by Ty Rattie. Mark Scheifele then gave Canada its first lead of the game, tipping in a shot by Xavier Ouellet to make it 4-3. "We just had to go out there and win the game," Scheifele told TSN. "Everyone's willing to play every position and do what's best for the team and that's a good sign."
Canada added to the lead at 3:32 of the third period on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins's second goal - and seventh point - of the tournament and Strome's second goal of the game three-and-a-half minutes later. "We're just happy to overcome adversity like that," Strome told TSN after the game. "We liked how everyone stepped up and came up with the win."
Subban made 25 saves for the victory to improve to 2-0 at his first World Junior tournament. The Boston Bruins prospect said after the game that allowing the first two goals didn't rattle him. "Not so much, especially after the first goal - not really," he said. "So I controlled my emotions pretty well."
"He played great," added Scheifele. "He's an outstanding athlete having to deal with some big scrambles during the game and we're happy he got the win."
Canada is now 7-0-1 all-time against Slovakia at the world juniors, with the lone tie coming back in 1998.
Canada's next game is against the United States, which can be seen Sunday at 4am et/1am pt on TSN and TSN.ca.