Just because Jaromir Jagr left the NHL three years ago doesn't mean he can't have an impact on an international level.
The 39-year-old right wing proved that point Wednesday when he scored three times in leading defending champion Czech Republic to a 4-0 victory against the United States in the quarterfinal round of the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship at Orange Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia.
"We have great goaltending and managed to score goals," Czech forward Jakub Voracek said. "If you get four goals, you should be able to win."
The victory moves the Czechs, winners of seven straight at Orange Arena, into Friday's semifinal against Sweden, whcih won the second quarterfinal game by beating Germany 5-2. The Czech Republic has an opportunity to repeat as champion for the first time since 1999-2000.
Jagr's linemate, Tomas Plekanec, had a goal and a pair of assists in the victory, and Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves for his second shutout of the tournament. Pavelec, who plays for the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, was named Player of the Game for the Czech Republic.
Jagr is shooting for his third World Championship gold medal, to go along with his 1998 Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup rings in 1991 and '92 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is one of only two Czech players, including Jiri Slegr, in the IIHF Triple Gold club.
"What can you say about Jagr?" said Czech forward Milan Michalek. "He's unbelievable. He's 39 but playing like a 20-year-old, flying on the ice. He's so strong."
Jagr scored goals in each period. His first, 18:45 into the opening period, proved to be all that Pavelec needed. Jagr finished the game with 16:14 of ice time on 22 shifts, scoring on three of his four shots on goal against U.S. goalie Ty Conklin (35 saves).
The loss ends any hope at a medal for a young United States team that averaged 24.4 years of age.
"The Czech skill took over toward the end of the game, and there's a reason why they haven't allowed so many goals in the tournament," USA coach Scott Gordon said. "We did a lot of things we wanted to do, but at the end we didn’t get to the rebounds, the second chances we wanted to get."
Sweden 5, Germany 2
Martin Thörnberg scored twice, Patrik Berglund had three points, and Viktor Fasth made 35 saves as Sweden cruised past Germany.
Thornberg gave the Swedes the lead just 27 seconds into the game when his slap shot deflected off a German defender and past Dennis Endras. Alexander Barta tied it at 2:01, but Berglund put the Swedes ahead to stay at 15:46, and goals by Niklas Persson and Loui Eriksson gave Sweden a 4-1 lead midway through the second period.
Michael Wolf gave the Germans some hope by scoring with 1:16 remaining in the middle period, but Thornberg added some insurance by knocking in a rebound 8:54 into the third period.
"I’m really happy. It was a tough game. We met this team before and we know that they play with much intensity. We couldn’t defend as well as we wanted. We had many giveaways, but offensively we played very well," Team Sweden coach Pär Mårts told the IIHF's website.