Marek to the rescue

Czechs send Finns packing after a penalty shootout, 2-1

Lanxess Arena Cologne  Germany

Jan Marek sent the puck to the net and the Finns back home. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

COLOGNE – Tied after 70 minutes of battle, it all came down to a penalty shootout. Lukas Kaspar and Jan Marek scored for the Czechs and sealed the win.

Jakub Klepis scored for the Czechs in the third period, and Tomas Vokoun made 29 saves in regulation time. Petri Kontiola scored for Finland. Pekka Rinne stopped 33 shots.

"It was a tough game, there were times when I was very nervous," Jaromir Jagr said about the win that took the Czechs past the quarterfinal for the first time since 2006.

"The shootout is lots of times a matter of luck. I get some, and I miss some. It's a fun way to win, but a tough way to lose," added goaltender Vokoun.

Before the game, everybody said that this was no Olympic rematch because the rosters are completely different. True enough, but the nature of the game was similar to the one played in Vancouver three months ago. A low-scoring game, thanks to good goaltending at both ends of the rink.

Another thing was different. In Vancouver, Finland scored late in the third period to win the game. In Cologne, they scored early in the first, and nursed the lead for 59 minutes.

"I do not think we want to get ahead of ourselves. We said before the game we are not supposed to be here and we have twice survived our death," Vokoun said.

Just 55 seconds into the game, Janne Niskala sent a pass from the top of the circle to Petri Kontiola on the Finns’ offensive blueline. Kontiola snuck between two Czech defencemen, waited for Tomas Vokoun to go down and beat him with a wrist shot on Vokoun’s glove side.

There were other differences. This time, the Czechs scored, too. Just 1:12 into the third period, while Jussi Jokinen was in the penalty box for the third time in the game, they played the puck to Jakub Klepis on the point, and he fired a slapshot that beat Pekka Rinne, and tied the game.

"It's a huge disappointment to have the season end like this. I think we battled hard, and we had some scoring chances, too," said Jussi Jokinen.

The game was mostly a battle, with both teams making sure that there were no turnovers in the critical areas on the ice. Both teams also defended the inside well, making the goalies' jobs that much easier.

The Czech team pushed hard in the third period, practically controlling the flow of the game. Rinne in the Finnish net made several acrobatic saves, including one on Jaromir Jagr and another on Jiri Novotny, both from a point-blank range.

With nine minutes remaining, the Czechs had outshot Finland 7-1 in the third period. But the score was tied after regulation time and the game went to a ten-minute, 4-on-4 overtime.

At, 3:58, Jakub Voracek got a tripping penalty, giving the Finns an excellent opportunity to score but the Czech penalty kill survived the scare.

"Our penalty killing was the difference and in the overtime when we did not give a shot on that 4-on-3, guys were battling, blocking shots," marveled Vokoun.

According to Team Finland head coach Jukka Jalonen, his team ran out of gas in the third period.

Ten additional minutes didn't change the score, and the Czech Republic is through to the semifinal against Sweden in a penalty shootout:

CZE: Lukas Kaspar, shot, goal
FIN: Jarkko Immonen, shot, goal
CZE: Jan Marek, deke, goal
FIN: Jussi Jokinen, deke, missed the net
CZE: Jakub Klepis, deke, miss
FIN: Petri Kontiola, miss

"We have to get ready to put in a 60-minute effort. It's a new game, and if we play hard, you never know what's possible," Vokoun said.





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