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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.
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 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
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10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59