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Czechs down Slovenia, Canada rolls Belarus

by Staff Writer / Winnipeg Jets


CZE 4, SLO 2

SWITZERLAND 4 3 1 0 0 11
CANADA  4 3 0 1 0 10
SWEDEN 5 3 0 0 2 9
CZE REP 5 2 1 0 2 8
NORWAY 4 1 0 0 2 3
BELARUS 3 1 0 0 2 3
DENMARK 4 0 1 1 2 3
SLOVENIA 5 0 0 1 3 1

RUSSIA 4 3 0 0 1 9
USA 4 3 0 0 1 9
FINLAND 4 2 1 0 1 8
SLOVAKIA 5 2 0 1 2 7
FRANCE 4 1 0 1 2 6
AUSTRIA 5 1 1 0 3 5
GERMANY 4 1 0 1 2 4
LATVIA 4 1 0 0 3 3

Andrew Ladd CAN 5 3 1 4 2 +2
Jacob Trouba USA 4 0 1 1 0 -2
Arturs Kulda LAT 4 1 1 2 2 -6

Ondrej Pavelec CZE 1 1 0 .92 .947 0


STOCKHOLM – Another day and another tournament saving effort by a Czech player named Zbynek. Zbynek Michalek’s third period goal helped the Czech Republic defeat Slovenia 4-2 in the early game at the Globe Arena in Stockholm.

Yesterday, the Czechs defeated Denmark thanks to Zbynek Irgl’s two goals in the shootout. Today it was Michalek whose power-play goal prevented the Czechs from facing a potentially tough loss to Slovenia.

Going back to 2003, the Czechs have not lost to Slovenia in three World Championship games including this one. Even with the loss, Slovenia turned in a very strong performance. A 2-2 first period saw Slovenia bring their “A” game to this Preliminary Round contest here at the 2013 World Championship.

Slovenia’s forward unit of Ziga Jeglic, Robert Sabolic and Rok Ticar once again displayed their potential as a unit. The trio combined for four points and six of Slovenia’s 11 shots on goal in the period. When Jiri Novotny was called for a penalty at 4:41, Slovenia featured an effective power play but the Czechs would use it to get the first goal of the game.

Petr Koukal forced a turnover at the point when Ales Kranjc tried to control the puck. Koukal stole the puck and gained a step ahead of Kranjc, went in on a break and deposited the puck past Robert Kristan. Koukal faked a forehand shot and scored backhand. The goal came at 5:39 and with 1:01 left on the Novotny penalty.

Koukal, who plays for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in Russia, was added to the Czech roster on Thursday along with Ondrej Pavelec.

Rather than get dispirited, Slovenia bounced back quickly on the same power play. Forty-two seconds later Sabolic scored off a rebound in front after Ticar’s slapshot from the point was saved. The puck landed on Sabolic’s stick and he cashed in.

Slovenia took the lead when poor coverage by the Czechs in their own end led to Ticar scoring his third of the tournament. Sabolic beat Zbynek Michalek to the puck behind the Czech goal and sent a pass in front to Ticar for the score.

Head coach Matjaz Kopitar has not had very many enjoyable moments during this World Championship. With his team still winless and facing the specter of relegation, he cannot be a very happy coach but there were encouraging signs in the first period.

With 43.1 remaining in the first Jiri Hudler tied it up. Hudler’s fourth goal of the tournament and third on the power play brought the Czechs right back. A precision pass by Jakub Voracek to Hudler led to the scoring chance.

Things were even until the third period when at 14:02 the Czechs took advantage of a power play. Voracek directed a pass to Michalek at the point who sent a shot on goal that found its way around though several players and in. For Michalek it was in second goal in as many games.

The Czechs added an insurance goal on the power play at 15:55 when Novotny followed his own rebound from a wrap around shot.



STOCKHOLM – Claude Giroux scored a sensational goal and added two assists to lead Canada to an impressive 4-1 win over Belarus. Devan Dubnyk faced only ten shots in Canada's goal to secure the win.

Alexei Yefimenko scored late for Belarus to end Canada's shutout streak at 145:34, going back to the second period of the Norway game.

Belarus remains winless against Canada in seven all-time World Championship games.

Steven Stamkos had two points to keep pace with Ilya Kovalchuk (RUS) and Petri Kontiola (FIN), who all have nine points to lead the tournament in scoring.

The win gives Canada 13 points. The Swiss have 11 and a game in hand. Belarus remains with only three points, tied for sixth with Denmark.

"There weren't many mistakes tonight," Dubnyk suggested. "We played a full 60 minutes. If we keep playing this way, we should be on the right side of games."

Canada (4-0-1-0) now has a day off before playing the Czechs on Sunday afternoon. Belarus (1-0-0-3) plays Norway in the late game Saturday night.

The strengths and weaknesses of Belarus were in plain evidence in the opening period. The team has scored only five goals in its first three games and allowed only seven, a clear indication that offence is the problem. Indeed, they Belarusians were frustratingly good defensively, but Canada played patiently and scored on their two best chances.

Ryan O’Neill opened the scoring at 11:17 after Jordan Staal stripped Roman Graborenko off the puck behind the Belarus net. Jeff Skinner picked up the loose puck and made a quick pass to O'Neill, who made no mistake from close range.

"It was great to get the first goal," O'Reilly said. "It helped us build some momentum, and we outworked them down low. In the first couple of games, we started slowly, but lately we've been getting going in the first five-to-ten minutes and outworking the other team to get the first goal."

Andrew Ladd made it 2-0 at 16:59 on the power play. Giroux teed the puck up for him in the slot, and Ladd ripped a laser over the glove of Dmitri Milchakov.

At the other end, Devan Dubnyk, making his second start in Stockholm, had few shots, none particularly dangerous. Indeed, shots were 20-2 in the period.

It was more of the same in the second, but after Canada made it 3-0 at 5:27 it let its foot off the gas. Giroux dangled his way with amazing skill through the Belarus defence, then dished the puck off to Steven Stamkos who had an open net.

Canada played superb defence, but Belarus simply didn’t have the skill or firepower to test Dubnyk, who faced only three more harmless shots in the period.

In the third, Giroux scored a goal that put a huge "this is what we want in Sochi" grin on Steve Yzerman's face. Giroux took the puck behind the Belarus net and faked one way. Milchakov slid over too far too quickly, and Giroux came out the other side and tucked the puck into a wide open net.

Yefimenko's goal was flukey. He fired the puck on net from a bad angle only to see it bounce off the skate of Canadian defenceman Brian Campbell past a surprised Dubnyk.

"We're not doing anything crazy," Dubnyk added. "We're just working hard and out-muscling teams in their end, controlling the puck. When that happens, things start to open up."


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