Host team wins 2nd straight
Host team wins 2nd straight
Czechs stay patient, overwhelm Austria
Pavelec previously posted two shutouts at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. His country's last medal (bronze) came in 2012. The Czechs have responded well since a 6-3 loss to Canada, beating France 5-1 in their last game and spurring hopes of a return to the podium.
"It was our second game in two days, which is always tough," said Pavelec. "We were waiting for that first goal for longer than we expected, but we were patient. We didn't start the game the way we wanted, but we found a way to score some goals in the second, which was huge. We controlled the game after that."
Friday's victory vaulted the host nation into third place in Group A with 10 points, one up on Switzerland.
Ondrej Nemec set the tone with a goal and an assist, and Martin Zatovic, Vladimir Sobotka, and captain Jakub Voracek also tallied.
"This is our first shutout, and I think it's important looking forward that we're playing better defence," said Nemec. "We're happy to have won the game."
Austria lost its third straight outing since starting the tournament with a 4-3 shootout win versus Switzerland.
“We played a good first period but we couldn’t play on their level for 60 minutes,” Austria coach Daniel Ratushny said. “They are faster, stronger. They probably have the best forecheck we’ve seen. We’ve spent a lot of time in our defensive zone.”
It took more than half the game for the host nation to start putting pucks in the net, but they would prove irresistible when they broke through.Continue reading
Midway through the first period, Voracek came down on a 2-on-1 with Tomas Hertl, but his pass across sailed wide. When a Czech drive bounced off goalie Bernhard Starkbaum’s left post and sat temptingly behind him in the crease, Michael Raffl was there to sweep it out of harm’s way.
The teams traded glorious chances at the end of the first. After a Czech 3-on-1 rush fell short, Austria came right back the other way and Pavelec stretched to get his left skate on Brian Lebler’s attempted backhand deke.
"We knew if they got the first goal we'd be in trouble, so we felt under a bit of pressure right away when we didn't score," Pavelec admitted. "We tried to keep it 0-0 and wait for opportunities to score the first goal."
The second period was all Czechs, as shots favored them 22-2. The only blemish was failing to cash in with an early two-man advantage.
At 11:09, as the Czechs buzzed around the Austrian zone, Nemec’s wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle beat Starkbaum high to the blocker side for a 1-0 lead. The veteran KHL defenceman exuberantly whirled his arms in celebration as the sell-out O2 Arena crowd of 17,383 exploded with relief. It was the second straight time Nemec has opened the scoring.
"My goal was lucky, but the most important thing was that the forwards went to the net," said Nemec.
Starkbaum did all he could to keep it a one-goal game, stoning Petr Koukal on a clean break with about six minutes left in the middle frame, among other great saves.
Zatovic extended the lead to 2-0 with 1:56 left in the middle frame. He accepted a great stretch pass from Jan Hejda in the neutral zone, burst in on a 2-on-1 with Koukal, and looked over as if preparing to dish it off before roofing it over Starkbaum’s glove.
Sobotka made it 3-0 just 1:04 later, coolly zinging a wrister inside the far post from the top of the right faceoff circle.
"I think we controlled the game after this," said Nemec.
Austria decided to give Starkbaum the third period off after those two psychologically crushing late goals. But his backup, Rene Swette, couldn't break the Czech momentum.
Squelching even the faintest hope of an Austrian comeback, defenceman Michal Jordan sprang Voracek on a breakaway off the opening faceoff in the third period, and he zipped a low shot home to give the Czechs a 4-0 lead just seven seconds in.
The legendary Jaromir Jagr provided another highlight for the crowd during a dazzling solo jaunt where he nearly fooled Swette with a spin-around backhander. Final shots on goal were 42-12 for the Czechs.
On Saturday, Austria will try to get back into the win column when it faces Latvia. The Czechs have Germany next on Sunday.
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