Thursday, December 18, 2014

Canada beats Czechs

MINSK, Belarus—Canadian captain Kevin Bieksa paid the price in the form of a chipped tooth and stitches on the inside of his mouth.
After Canada held on to beat the Czech Republic 4-3 yesterday at the world hockey championships, it was worth it.

Bieksa took Jan Kovar’s stick to the mouth—a penalty that gave Canada a five-minute man advantage it scored twice on.
When the Czechs scored twice in the third period to make things interesting, those power-play goals loomed large.
“If you look at it, it’s the difference in the game,” noted coach Dave Tippett.
Canada’s power play was 1-for-11 in the tournament before Nathan MacKinnon and Morgan Rielly scored 17 seconds apart to build a three-goal lead.
Even though Jiri Novotny and Tomas Hertl cut the advantage to one late, it was enough of a cushion to allow Canada to survive for a second-straight victory.
Still flush in his face from stopping 31 shots, goalie James Reimer joked he and his teammates just wanted to keep it close and entertain the fans at Chizhovka-Arena.
But he expected the Czechs to make a push.
“They’re a good team,” Reimer said, pausing to catch his breath. “And obviously they’re playing desperate. . . .
“You know they weren’t going to roll over; you knew they were going to come hard.”
That was thanks in part to what Tippett called “unforced errors” by his players.
“They’re going to get their pressure just because they’re good players, but then adding fuel to the fire, that’s when you’re really in trouble,” he stressed.
“There [were] two or three times in that third period where we had a good chance to clear it, make a good, solid, simple play, and we forced pucks that got turned over and then it comes right back at you.”
Even though it got nerve-wracking late, Canada had some breathing room.
Goals by Joel Ward—his third of the tournament—and assistant captain Kyle Turris helped the Canadians rebound from giving up the first goal for a third-straight game before the power play finally clicked.
That wasn’t just a coincidence. Tippett made some personnel switches on the power-play units, putting Alex Burrows, Ward, and Turris on the ice to see what would change.
“Less skill and more work,” he noted.
The win gave Canada seven points atop Group A.
Its next game is Thursday against Denmark.

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