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THE CZECH REPUBLIC ADVANCE TO THE FINALS

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

Czech Republic beats Finland 3-1
to reach second straight hockey worlds final

RIGA, Latvia (AP) - David Vyborny scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period Saturday to lead defending champion Czech Republic over Finland 3-1 and into the final at the world hockey championship.

The Czechs will face either Canada or Sweden in Sunday's championship game. It's the fifth time the Czechs have reached the final since 1999.

With 3:43 left, Vyborny tipped Tomas Kaberle's shot from the point past goalie Fredrik Norrena with the Czechs on the power play.

"I just tried to stay in front of the net and Tomas just tried to shoot the high glove and I just touched it and it went in," Vyborny said. "I think nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. We are ready for 60 minutes and now we play every game. We have to be ready in the first 20 minutes.

"It doesn't matter for us (who we play). If we want to win, we have to be able to beat (either) team."

It was the third goal and 10th point in the tournament for Vyborny, who plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL.

Jaroslav Hlinka added an empty-netter with 46 seconds left after Finland pulled Norrena for an extra attacker 10 seconds earlier.

Finland, with 10 Olympic silver medallists on its roster, took the lead eight minutes into the game when Riku Hahl's long shot from the neutral zone went past Czech Republic goalie Milan Hnilicka's stick side.

Tomas Plecanek tied the score after a brilliant individual move at 8:26 in the second period with the Czechs playing shorthanded. After taking a mid-ice pass, Plecanek skated in, deked Finland defenceman Petteri Nummelin and roofed a backhander from a tough angle past Norrena's glove side.

"I think we played a really good game," Nummelin said. "We were ready to play the game from the start. I don't know if the Czechs weren't ready, but the first period was ours and they got a little bit better in the second. We got a couple of chances and didn't score. They got a couple of chances and did."

Finland outshot the Czechs 34-21.

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