February 15, 2006
TURIN, Italy (AP) -- Defenceman Tomas Kaberle scored twice in the second period and the Czech Republic, withstanding an injury to star goalie Dominik Hasek, held off tenacious Germany for a 4-1 victory Wednesday at the Winter Olympics.
The victory was tighter than expected for what figures to be a high-scoring Czech team featuring NHL scoring leader Jaromir Jagr, mostly because Olaf Kolzig played an excellent game in goal.
The Czechs held onto a 2-1 lead for most of the final two periods, until Jagr scored with 2:13 remaining on a shot that Kolzig initially stopped only to have it bounce into the net off defenceman Sascha Goc's left leg. David Vyborny scored into an empty net in the final minute.
Hasek, the biggest star of the 1998 Czech team that won the first Olympic tournament with mostly NHL players and a six-time NHL goalie of the year, left midway through the first period with an undisclosed injury shortly after stopping a shot on a German power play.
Hasek returned to the bench late in the period, a towel draped across his neck, but the Czechs' No. 3 goalie, Milan Hnilicka, dressed and was on the bench the rest of the game.
The Czechs' depth helped them hold on and win the first of their five round-robin games in pool play.
Tomas Vokoun, who has played so well for the Nashville Predators this season there was some debate if he should be the Czech starter, replaced Hasek to stop all but one of the 21 shots he faced and set up one Czech goal himself.
The Czechs are considered Canada's biggest threat for the Olympic gold medal, but Kolzig repeatedly shut down their top scorers, including Jagr, Martin Straka and Milan Hejduk. The player he couldn't stop was Kaberle, who has only six goals this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After Tino Boos scored in the final minute of the first period to give Germany the lead, Kaberle tied it slightly more than a minute into the second period - a goal set up by, of all players, Vokoun.
Vokoun made a long lead pass into the neutral zone that was collected by Pavel Kubina, who pushed it up ice to Kaberle, who skated in and beat Kolzig inside the far post with a hard wrist shot.
Kaberle scored again less than three minutes later, taking Martin Straka's pass from behind the net to beat Kolzig again with a wrist shot from the left circle.
Vokoun protected the one-goal lead for most of the next two periods, with the Czechs missing a chance to push it to 3-1 in the third when Hejduk shot high and wide on a penalty shot awarded when Petr Cajanek was pulled down by defenceman Christoph Schubert. Under Olympic rules, any player can be designated to take a penalty shot.