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Czechs top Slovakia for date with U.S.

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 2:59 PM ET / News
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Czechs top Slovakia for date with U.S.

SOCHI -- A strong start for the Czech Republic proved decisive Tuesday against rival Slovakia, but a trip to the quarterfinals in the 2014 Sochi Olympics wasn't without some nervy moments near the end.

Roman Cervenka scored a pair of goals to help the Czech Republic defeat Slovakia 5-3 to set up a quarterfinal match Wednesday against the United States (Noon ET, USA, TSN2).

The Slovaks got within a goal after falling behind 4-0 to start the game, but a slashing penalty to prevent a 2-on-1 in the final minute and an empty-net goal from Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec ended any doubt.

The Czechs were the aggressors at the start and dominated much of the first period. A pair of goals 29 seconds apart put them in control.

Ales Hemsky snapped home a shot from the slot at 6:53 for his first goal of the tournament. The Edmonton Oilers forward began these Olympics as the extra forward for the Czechs, but he's become a fixture on the second line in short order.

Plekanec banged a shot off the post seconds later and Cervenka was there to put in the rebound at 7:22. Cervenka had nine goals and 17 points in 39 games last season with the Calgary Flames before returning to the Kontinental Hockey League this season.

David Krejci added a second power-play goal for the Czechs to forge a three-goal lead. Former NHL defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who had two assists, sent a pass to Krejci for a one-timer from the left circle, and the Boston Bruins center ripped it into the top-left corner at 17:03. Krejci and Kaberle were teammates on the Bruins' Stanley Cup championship team in 2011.

Slovakia played better at the onset of the second period but was unable to cut into the lead. Cervenka added his second goal of the game at 15:41 of the second. He stripped the puck from Andrej Sekera near the Slovak blue line and patiently waited out goaltender Jan Laco before flicking a backhanded shot from a tight angle just inside the post.

Laco, a backup to former NHL goaltender Michael Leighton in the KHL, had 36 saves in a 1-0 shootout loss to Russia in the last preliminary-round game and was given the start ahead of St. Louis Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak, but he was unable to conjure similar magic two days later.

Marian Hossa got the Slovak deficit back down to three goals at 18:57 of the second. His Chicago Blackhawks teammate, Michal Handzus, carried the puck behind the net and backhanded a pass to Hossa who scored his first goal of the tournament.

He added his second at 7:20 of the third to make it 4-2. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped Tomas Tatar's whirling backhanded shot from the left wing but Hossa hammered the rebound past him.

Slovakia kept the pressure on and it became a one-goal game 91 seconds later. Forward Tomas Surovy scored on a one-timer in transition from the high slot and Czech Republic coach Alois Hadamczik called timeout to regroup.

Plekanec's empty-net goal with 39 seconds left clinched the victory.

The Czech Republic now is 4-0-0 against Slovakia in the Olympics, and 13-3-1 including games in the IIHF World Championship.

Corey Masisak

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 54 15 24 6 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 54 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 52 17 17 14 34
T. Zajac 46 8 18 7 26
D. Schlemko 46 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 54 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 54 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 43 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 16 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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