ZURICH-KLOTEN – The Czech Republic stormed out of the gate with three goals in the first period and coasted to a lacklustre 5-2 win over Norway. Five different scorers counted the goals for the winners.
The win push the Czechs in first place of Group D with six points while Norway has no wins and two regulation losses.
"We could have played a little bit better defensively today," Norway's captain Tommy Jakobsen acknowledged, "but you can't take anything away from the Czechs. They're among the best in the world all the time."
The Czechs got things started at 5:20 when Roman Polak’s point shot went wide. It bounced directly back in the slot and Jan Marek hammered it into the empty side before Norwegian goalie Pål Grotnes knew what had happened.
Four minutes later they connected on a power play, Petr Cajanek converting a nice pass from behind the net by Ales Hemsky. Cajanek was well covered but he managed to get a quick shot off that beat Grotnes between the legs.
The prettiest goal was the third, at 12:19. The puck bounced high at centre ice and Roman Cervenka batted it perfectly to Josef Vasicek, streaking down the right wing. The left-hand shot rifled the puck over the far shoulder of Grotnes into the top corner – top shelf, where mama keeps the cookies, as they say.
"That was huge for use," Josef Vasicek said. "Getting those first three goals helped us establish our game."
This barrage spelled the end for Grotnes as backup André Lysenstøen came out to start the second period. The move paid dividends quickly as Tommy Jakobsen’s point shot eluded Martin Prusek at 1:49 to cut the lead to two goals.
Much of the rest of the period was without event for the Czechs, but they managed to regain their three-goal advantage on another play in tight. This time Rastislav Olesz, off to the side of the net, made a quick, short pass to Miroslav Blatak and his one-timer beat Lysenstøen.
The persistent Norwegians made it 4-2 with just eight seconds left in the period on a five-on-three power play. Mats Zuccarello Aasen moved in to the top of the faceoff circle and wired a wrist shot over Prusek’s shoulder.
"It looked like they got a little emotion when they scored with the two-man advantage," Vasicek conceded, "but we have more experience, so we were able to keep them on the outside and control the rest of the game."
Indeed, the Czechs had most of the play in the third and were rewarded at 11:14 when a harmless-looking backhand from Jakub Klepis snuck under the arm of Lysenstøen to make it 5-2.
"You can't get down three goals to the Czechs and expect to win the game," Zuccarello Aasen observed, "so we have to be much smarter when a team comes out and plays with such a high tempo."
The game had an odd start to it. Just 40 seconds after the opening faceoff, a sheet of glass broke, forcing a delay of almost 20 minutes.
The Czechs finish the round robin on Wednesday against Finland in what should be a battle for first place while Norway plays Denmark in a critical game which will likely determine which team moves on to the Qualification Round and which must fight for survival in the Relegation Round.