Canada 3 - Czech Republic 2
CANADA HOLDS OFF CZECHS TO FINISH THIRD GROUP A
Third place in Group A was on the line as Canada and the Czech Republic took to the ice on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, Switzerland had assured itself of a 2nd place finish outright in the Group, after rallying to gain a 3-3 tie against Italy.
After two straight shutouts, there was a collective sigh of relief among Canadian hockey fans and players when Canada opened the scoring. At 7:37, Brad Richards let a wrist shot from just in side the blueline that handcuffed Czech goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who had Kris Draper bearing in on him.
It was time for a second sigh of relief for Canada, at 11:15, as the power play clicked. With Ryan Smyth providing the distraction in front of the net, Martin St-Louis banked it in off the Czech defenceman, to stake Canada to a 2-0 lead.
The Czechs did not let up, but could not beat Brodeur, who looked sharp in the opening period. Then at 19:24, Chris Pronger pounced on a loose puck and lasted Vokoun on a hard slapshot, to give Canada a 3-0 lead through the first period. The marked the end of the night for Vokoun, who was replaced by Milan Hnilicka.
At 12:10 of the second period, Jaromir Jagr was set up in the slot but Brodeur made great glove save to keep Canada up by three.
Canada ran into penalty trouble and was down two players, when the Czech power play came through. Jagr set up Pavel Kubina whose one-time slapshot beat Brodeur, at 13:46. Going into Canada’s final period of the round robin, Canada had a 3-1 lead over the Czech Republic.
It didn’t take long in the third for the Czechs to make things interesting. Petr Cajanek found the mark at 2:41, with an assist going to Ales Hemsky, closing the Czechs to within one goal of Canada, with over 17 minutes to play. Moments after his goal, Cajanek was sent in alone on Brodeur, but the Canadian goaltender managed to put his stick down just in time to make the save.
While the Czechs carried much of the play over the final minutes, it was Brodeur who stole the show and led Canada to a 3-2 win.
Canada gets third place in the group and will face the team that finishes 2nd in Group B, one of Russia, Slovakia or Sweden. Canada’s opponent in the quarter-finals will be determined this evening, when Russia meets USA while Sweden takes on Slovakia in the final games of the round robin. Canada will play on February 22nd, at the Torino Esposizioni at 8:30 pm (local)/ 2:30 pm (ET).
Wayne Gretzky: "We can't
continuously be stubborn in our end. We have to get the puck to the other side of centre. We have to
get the puck in their end. Our power play has to be better and our offensive defencemen have to jump in
and pinch in more."
Joe Sakic: "We lost a couple of
games, and when this happens everything gets blown out of proportion. It doesn't matter, what matters
is how we play tomorrow."
For more information:
Brad Pascall Vice-President, Hockey Operations