MYTISHI, Russia – Eric Staal scored his second goal of the game in the first minute of play in overtime to lead Canada to a 4-3 win over the Czech Republic on Sunday at the World Hockey Championship.
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The Canadians trailed three times in the game and the only time they took the lead was at 0:22 of overtime when Staal scored from close in.
"It shows how much character this team has, the way we came back," said defenceman Nick Schultz. "We got something going and we want to carry that momentum into the medal round."
Shane Doan, with his team-leading fifth goal, and Jay McClement also scored for the Canadians, who complete the qualifying round of the 16-team tournament on Monday against the United States.
Canada is now 2-0 in qualifying round play, and 4-0 overall, leaving them two points up on the United States in top spot in Group F. Teams carry forward preliminary round points from teams that advanced to the qualifying round.
"The game against the States is big. First place is up for grabs," said Schutlz. "They are a good team and it is a good rivalry."
The overtime result meant that the Czechs advanced to the quarter-finals, avoiding the ignominy of recording their worst result since 1930.
Dwayne Roloson got the start in net and the Canadians were killing a penalty when a slap shot from the point by Marek Zidlicky sailed past his glove hand as the goalie was moving left to right across the crease for a 1-0 Czech lead at 13:17 of the first.
McClement tied it on a strange play. The puck was in the Czech end when Jan Marek stopped skating and left the puck in the slot after someone in the crowd apparently had blown a whistle. McClement pounced on the loose puck and rifled a wrist shot past goalie Roman Cechmanek to tie the game at 2:17 of the second.
"That was a strange one," said Schultz. "They stopped skating and the puck ened up in the net. We'll take it."
Added McClement: "It was kind of a bizarre goal. I wasn't sure if the whistle went, so I just fired it anyway. Luckily, it was a whistle from the crowd."
The Czechs took the lead for a second time at 12:05, again on the power play, but the Canadians rallied again. This time Mike Cammalleri fed the puck to a streaking Staal and he pulled the puck back to miss a forecheck by Cechmanek and stuffed it into the empty side at 3:22 of the third.
Another Canadian penalty left to a Czech goal by Tomas Plekanec, but Doan snapped a wrist shot past Cechmanek at 11:07 to tie the game again.
The Czechs had inserted goalie Martin Pinc at the end of regulation and the game ended soon after. Canadian defenceman Eric Brewer took a point shot and Staal shoveled in the rebound for his second of the night. The Czechs thought they had made it 3-1 with 20 seconds to play in the middle period when Radislav Olesz tried to stuff in a wraparound. He celebrated at the bench with teammates while referee Vyacheslav Bulanov reviewed the play. After a few minutes, it was ruled that the puck didn't cross the goal line. Canadian defenceman Shea Weber returned from his three-game suspension for hitting a German player with an elbow to the head.