International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs remain undefeated

Czechs remain undefeated

Plekanec guides 3-1 win over Kazakhstan

Published 13.05.2016 18:49 GMT+3 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Czechs remain undefeated
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 13: Kazakhstan's Vitali Kolesnik #20 makes the save against the Czech Republic's Michal Birner #16 while Nikita Ivanov #91 defends during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Tomas Plekanec's goals early in the first and third periods led the Czech Republic to a solid win over a stubborn Kazakhstan.

Vitali Kolesnik was excellent in goal for the Kazakhs, stopping 33 of 35 shots, but he alone could not produce an upset.

With the win the Czechs take a firm grip on first place in Group A with 14 points, five up on Russia, which has a game in hand.

The loss leaves the Kazakhs in a tricky spot. Their two points keeps them in last place with Latvia, which could move up if it wins points in tonight’s game against the Danes.

The Czechs and Kazakhs have played only twice previously, the Czechs winning both, in 2004 and 2005.

"It was tough for us today because we played yesterday as well," said Czech Jan Kolar. "We weren't too worried that it was taking a long time to get the game wrapped up. In a tournamnet like this you sometimes just have to grind out the win without playing pretty."

The only goal of the first came early. A Kazakh turnover along the boards in their end allowed David Pastrnak to blast a shot form the point. Kolesnik made the save, but Plekanec lifted the rebound in for a 1-0 Czech lead.

The Czechs seemed content to play to a 1-0 game, and they controlled play nicely for the first half of the second, but a funny thing happened on the way to victory. The Kazakhs started to gain in confidence, played a little more aggressively, and created several good scoring chances.

That it was still a 1-0 game after 40 minutes was only because of some misfiring, some nice work in the crease by Pavel Francouz, and a bit of bad luck.

Plekanec made it 2-0 at 2:51 of the third. Pastrnak spotted the captain while coming out of the corner, and fed a perfect pass to Plekanec in the slot. His quck shot was deadly acurate.

Kazakhstan made it interesting with a goal with 4:30 left in regulation time. The Canadian-born tandem connected when Dustin Boyd had the puck behind the Czech net and fired a pass in front where Nigel Dawes one-timed it past a surprised Francouz.

That's as close as they got. Robert Kousal added an empty-netter with 1:09 left to seal the deal for the Czechs.

"Their first line was strong and they were good on the PP, but in this competition you expect that every team will cause you problems," Kolar added. "There's really not much between any of the teams here."

The Czechs have a day off before playing Denmark on Sunday, but Kazakhstan is back at it tomorrow in a critical match against Latvia.

 

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