Coming off a weekend where Slovakia and the Czech Republic lost their IIHF Hockey World Championship games, both teams with Boston Bruins on them bounced back and recorded wins on May 7.
The Slovakian team beat America 4-2 to record their first win of the tournament so far. Dominik Granak grabbed the lead for Slovakia before a minute elapsed in the game, during a time when American viewers couldn’t even see the game yet due to technical difficulties on NBC Sports Network. But the first period was dominated by Slovakian players, who were often able to seize the puck and get deep into the American side of the bigger ice surface, and this dominance paid off twice more in the first period with goals by Branko Radivojevic and Andrej Sekera of the Buffalo Sabres. Sekera’s goal came with mere seconds left in the period. America did get on the board in the first, though, via Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes. Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche added a power play goal to provide the only scoring in the second period. (While Stastny is American, his father Peter played for the old Czechoslovakia in four different World Championships, plus Slovakia in another tournament. They made mention of this before the game.) During the third period, Zdeno Chara was hit with a high stick by Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets and he was shown with his mouth bright red from the blood. America did successfully kill the four-minute penalty that resulted, and Atkinson later tried to tie the game, but it didn’t work. In the end it was former Bruin Miroslav Satan who sealed the win with an empty net goal. Cue the Slovakian goal dance of joy!
I was able to watch USA vs. Slovakia live on NBC Sports Network along with other Bruins fans who were able, considering it was shown at 1 p.m. on a weekday. It was an enjoyable experience even though many of us were racked with the inability to choose which side we wanted to win–the one captained by Big Z or the one representing our home country? At least it was nice to hear announcers talk about “Chara’s blast” and other things like that.
Meanwhile in Sweden, the other half of the former Czechoslovakia played Norway and won 4-3 in a shootout–the first game of this tournament to go all the way to the shootout, though a few have been resolved in overtime. David Krejci produced more offense this time, kept out of the penalty box and even scored a goal, the Czech Republic’s second of the afternoon. (In my last Worlds update, I wanted to see Krejci actually get on the score sheet, knowing he has it in him, so it’s nice to see some results.) He also took a shot in the shootout, but was unsuccessful. Norway started the score sheet with a power play goal by Mathis Olimb, taking advantage of the man advantage in a first period dotted with four Czech penalties. Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers took two of those and, feeling a need to redeem himself, tied the game with a late first-period goal. Lars Erik Spets untied it for Norway early in the second, the score holding until Krejci scored later in a penalty-free period. Michael Frolik of the Chicago Blackhawks extended the Czech lead in the third, but Norway’s Jonas Holos equalized it again and forced the extra time. In the shootout, Hemsky was the only one to score, which probably gave him full redemption for the early-game mistakes.
Next up for Slovakia: Kazakhstan, May 9, 9:15 a.m. Eastern, 4:15 p.m. local. Kazakhstan has yet to win a game and just lost one of its players, Roman Starchenko, to a concussion on a hit by France’s Sasha Treille. Treille received a four-game suspension for the hit, which could end up being for the rest of the tournament.
Next up for Czech Republic: Latvia, May 10, 2:15 p.m. Eastern, 8:15 p.m. local. Latvia just came off a 3-2 win over Germany.
The next Worlds update will come after both of these games have been played.
Other game results from May 7–France vs. Canada: 7-2 Canada; Denmark vs. Sweden: 6-4 Sweden.