February 21, 2006
TURIN, Italy (CP) -- Team Canada jumped on shaky goaltender Tomas Vokoun for three first-period goals and went on to a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday.
The win gave Canada third place in Group A with a 3-2 record in the round robin. They will play Slovakia, Russia or Sweden in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, depending on later Group B results.
Sweden was to play Slovakia and Russia was to take on the United States later Tuesday.
The 2-3 Czechs finished fourth in Group A and will play the first-place team from Group B.
Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Chris Pronger scored in the opening period - Canada's first goals in seven periods after consecutive 2-0 losses to Switzerland and Finland.
A crowd of 9,126 at Palasport Olympico saw Canada, wearing the black uniforms they wore in the tournament opener, play its best game of the tournament thus far as they finally found some cohesion in their team play after scattered, ineffective hockey through the first four games. Pronger, who was heavily criticized after earlier games, was perhaps Canada's best skater against the Czechs.
Pavel Kubina and Petr Cajanek scored for the Czechs.
A concern for Canada was that goaltender Martin Brodeur appeared to injure his left knee when Cajanek fell on him in the crease in the second period. Brodeur lay on the ice as play went to the other end of the ice, but he stayed in the game.
Vokoun's worry was stopping the puck. The Nashville Predator had played every minute since Dominik Hasek was injured in the first period of the Czech's first game at the Olympics last week.
But he ceded his place to former NHL goalie Milan Hnilicka to start the second period.
Only 7:37 into the match, Richard's medium-speed shot from the high slot went straight between Vokoun's pads.
St. Louis banked a bad-angled shot in off Kubina and Vokoun on a power play at 11:19 and Pronger scored on a blast from the slot at 19:24.
The Czechs came out skating harder in the middle period and scored on a two-man advantage at 13:46 when Kubina blasted a feed from Jaromir Jagr inside the near post.
Canada had to hold off a fierce Czech barrage in the third period, particularly after Cajanek closed the gap to 3-2 with an off-wing wrist shot that handcuffed Brodeur at 2:41.
A change for Canada was moving Shane Doan onto a regular line with Joe Thornton and Todd Bertuzzi and making winger Rick Nash the so-called 13th forward.