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Frolik, Czech Republic edge Russia at World Cup

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC -- Team Czech Republic defeated Team Russia 2-1 in a shootout in a pre-tournament game at 02 Arena on Saturday.

Ales Hemsky had the deciding goal in the shootout, beating Semyon Varlamov to the far side after Vladimir Tarasenko scored the only shootout goal for Team Russia.

Jakub Voracek also scored for Team Czech Republic in the shootout.

Each team had a chance to win in overtime. Alex Ovechkin of Team Russia, who was not one of the players used in the shootout, had a breakaway, but defenceman Andrej Sustr caught him on the back check and disrupted the attempt. Shortly after, Voracek broke in alone but was stopped by Varlamov's pad save.

Team Czech Republic forward Tomas Plekanec scored the tying goal when he deflected a shot by Michael Frolik past Varlamov with 1:11 remaining in the third period. Defenceman Michal Kempny started the play with an incisive pass to Voracek along the high half wall.

Plekanec has a goal in each of the first two pre-tournament games, with each coming on a deflection.

Nikita Kucherov also scored for the second-straight pre-tournament game, giving Team Russia a 1-0 lead 1:04 into the third period. He took a cross-crease pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and got the puck in the net before Team Czech Republic goalie Michal Neuvirth could get his pads to the far post. Two days earlier, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Kucherov scored the third Team Russia goal in a 4-3 victory in the team's first pre-tournament game.

Team Russia and Team Czech each depart for Pittsburgh on Sunday and have two more days of practice before playing a final pretournament game on Wednesday. Team Czech Republic plays Team North America (1:30 PM MT; ESPN3, SN, SN1, TVA Sports) and Team Russia plays Team Canada (5:30 PM MT, ET; ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports). Each game will be at Consol Energy Center.

The World Cup of Hockey starts Sept. 17 in Toronto, at Air Canada Centre.

Varlamov stopped the first 31 shots he faced in his first action for Team Russia and made 33 saves. His biggest save came at 9:34 of the second period. Plekanec found the puck on his stick in-tight on the Russian net and had half the net to shoot at, but Varlamov made a glove save.

Neuvirth, playing his first game with the senior national team, was nearly as good, although he was less busy than Varlamov. Neuvirth made 20 saves and made a strong statement on his candidacy to be the No. 1 goalie for Team Czech Republic.

The game Saturday was testier than 48 hours earlier in St. Petersburg, Russia. In that game, Team Russia scored three straight goals to erase a one-goal deficit and hold off a Team Czech Republic comeback.

Team Czech Republic played the game with 11 forwards and seven defencemen because of the absence of Vladimir Sobotka, who was injured in the game Thursday. Sobotka had a MRI exam on Friday that showed no significant damage. He will fly with the team to Pittsburgh on Sunday and could play on Wednesday.

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