Czechs rally in last period to shootout victory

Czechs rally in last period to shootout victory

Markus Nisius08 May 2017Markus Nisius»

Finland came out fuming after their humiliating loss against France and controlled the game for 2 periods. But in the last period the Czech Republic came back from a 3-goal deficit to get the win.


Both teams entered the game with one victory and one loss. However, the Finns probably had a bit more anger inside after losing 5-1 against France, who despite the home advantage were the clear underdog. The loss of the Czechs came in their opening game against Canada. Both teams have beaten Belarus, but while the Czechs cruised to an easy 6-1 with a 45-7 shot domination, the Finns had to wait for the game-winning 3-2 goal until 10 minutes before the final horn.

And Finland started quick. 58 seconds were played when Valtteri Filppula tipped in the rebound of Sebastian Aho’s wrap around attempt for the Finnish lead. Two minutes later a shot from Topi Jaakola got deflected and bounced over Petr Mrazek into the goal for the 2-0.

Even a call for a check from behind against Oskar Osala after 6:30 minutes did not get the Czechs into a dangerous position since Finland could clear the puck again and again. Only a shot by Philadelphia Flyers star Jakub Voracek challenged Finnish goalie Joonas Korpisalo briefly.

Finland stayed on the gas pedal, but could not benefit from their first powerplay either. A few minutes later, though, the puck found the Czech’s net for the third time. Ville Lajunen blasted a shot from the blue line and did not leave Red Wings goalie Mrazek any chance.

The second period started like the first one ended, with Finland making the plays, until a powerplay finally gave the Czech Republic a bit of momentum. Lukas Radil, David Pastrnak and Tomas Plekanec suddenly had good scoring chances midway through the period. Pastrnak had the biggest chance when Roman Cervenka skated around the boards after 33 minutes and surprised everyone with a nice backhand pass from behind the goal delivering the puck just on the brink of the goal line. Unfortunately Pastrnak was one of the surprised players and could not get it past Korpisalo.

Finland managed to defend their lead and took the 3-0 into the second break as well. They even had a couple of chances to build on the lead in the dying seconds of the period, but Mrazek had everything under control.

The Leijonat started the last period with a powerplay in which Juuso Hietanen hit the goal post, but afterwards the game started bouncing back and forth. On the other side a Czech powerplay saw Jan Kovar fail to put the puck past Korpisalo all alone in front of Blue Jackets netminder just before Roman Horak broke the spell at the 47:37 mark for the Czechs out of the same position in the slot.

The guys in red and white tried to increase the pressure with the clock ticking down, but it was Oskar Osala, who had a huge chance on a penalty kill to decide the game. Luckily for the Czechs the puck missed by inches and so they could score the 2-3 with 2:14 minutes remaining. Jakub Krejcik sent the puck over to Radko Gudas on the blue line and he hammered it straight into the net.

Seconds later Aho lost the puck in his own end to Pastrnak. He spun around, found Jan Kovar and he hit it in the lower right corner of the net for the equalizer. Within 30 seconds a game, in which Finland looked like the safe bet for the victory, was sent to overtime. The Czech fans were celebrating already.

Three minutes into overtime Aho came really close to ending the game on a break away, but Mrazek had the blockers down on the ice and Aho’s wrap around didn’t work either. Shortly after, Filppula created some space for Jesse Puljujärvi, who got tripped by Plekanec, but the referees‘ whistles stayed calm and so the game found the thrilling end in a shootout.

In the shootout Petr Mrazek and Robin Hanzl turned out to be the heros. Mrazek stopped all three Finnish attempts, while Hanzl defeated Korpisalo for the game-winning goal.The defeat puts Finland under a lot of pressure now in their next game against Slovenia. The Czechs will have a rare 2-day pause before facing Norway on thursday.

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