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One Game Short

Thursday, 05.7.2009 / 5:04 PM ET / World Championship
Florida Panthers
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One Game Short

By Glenn Odebralski for floridapanthers.com

Canada 4 – Latvia 2 ::: On paper, Canada should have dominated play in their quarterfinal matchup against Latvia. They had only one player on their roster that did not play this past season in the NHL. Latvia on the other hand had just one NHL regular (Cats defenseman Karlis Skrastins).

But with a ticket to the semifinals, the game was a close game all the way to the finish as Canada won 4-2.

The first time that the two teams faced each other in the tournament, it was a feeling out process in the first period of play. Canada held a 16-8 shot advantage on Latvia but it was scoreless going into the first intermission.

The Canadians finally solved Edgars Masalskis 6:37 into the second period as Ottawa’s Dany Heatley one-timed the Derek Roy (Buffalo) pass past the Latvian goalie.

Canada stretched their lead to two when Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis let a rip go from just inside the blueline. The knuckler got by Masalskis with just under six to play in the second (5:57) for the power play goal.

Latvia would get one back. Thanks to the special teams no less. Shorthanded with M Redlihs in the box for slashing, Guntis Galvins took the pass on the rush from Herberts Vasiljevs and beat Chris Mason with 2:30 left in the period.

Talk about no time for celebrate. As Galvins and the Latvians were still high from their goal, the Canadians came right back and scored 17 seconds later. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos rebounded Hamhuis’ shot past Masalskis on the power play for his seventh of the tournament.

And it was a one-goal game again. At least for 1:40. Vasiljevs one-timed Aleksandrs Nizivijs’ pass past Mason 1:27 into the third. But Canada comes back to retake a two-goal lead as Phoenix’s Matthew Lombardi worked his way through the Latvian defense and scored 3:07 into the final period.

The underdogs had a great opportunity to get close with 5:51 left in the game as they had a 6-on-3 opportunity for 34 seconds. Almost an eternity in the hockey world. Heatley was sent to the box for slashing with 5:51 remaining. Latvia then pulled their goalie with 5:07 remaining. While on the two-man advantage, San Jose’s Marc-Endre Vlasic was whistled for high sticking with 4:29. Despite several good opportunities, including two bomb attempts from Skrastins, Latvia came up empty and Canada held on for the 4-2 victory.

Canada finished outshooting Latvia 48-23. They now play Sweden in the semifinals on Friday. Latvia finishes seventh in the tournament.

Skrastins finished the game with a shot on net and was a minus-1 on 19:49 of ice time. Janis Sprukts was minus-2 on 19:05 of ice time.


Sweden 3 – Czech Republic 1
::: Looking to be the last team into the medal rounds with a win Thursday, Sweden used a two-goal second to propel them to a 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic.

The victory sends Sweden to the semifinals with a meeting against Canada. The Czechs finished sixth at the World Championships.

What was it with these quarterfinals. It’s like none of the teams wanted to make an early mistake. That’s because for the fourth straight quarterfinal matchup, the teams went to the first intermission scoreless.

The Czech Republic was the busier team in the opening period of play, sending 13 shots at Jonas Gustavsson while Sweden responded with seven shots on Jakub Stepanek.

Controlling the first period of play, it would be penalties that would cause the Czechs to lose that control in the second.

Tomas Rolinek was whistled for interference 1:55 into the second. Then Milan Michalek (San Jose) was sitting at the 2:34 as he was called for hooking. Sweden said thank you and scored when Magnus Johansson set up Mattias Weinhandl near the left face-off circle. The forward took the puck and shot five-hole on Stepanek for a 1-0 lead for Sweden 3:53 into the middle twenty.

Weinhandl had a great opportunity seven minutes into the middle frame to make it 2-0 as Sweden had a 2-on-1 break, but he put it high above the net on the attempt.

Sweden wouldn’t miss a second opportunity to make it an all important 2-0 later however. And it again came off the power play. With Jakub Klepis in the box for interference, Weinhandl’s shot hit Stepanek and was laying just outside the crease. There, Dick Tarnstrom slammed home the loose puck for his second of the tournament with 1:11 left.

Down two after two periods of play, the Czechs turned up the pressure in the third. They had several close calls early including Patrik Elias (New Jersey) ringing one off the post five and a half minutes into the third.

There wasn’t a post in the way this time as the Czechs finally solved Gustavsson and got on the board. Apparently all they needed to score was to be down two men. With Miroslav Blatak and Elias both in the box, Petr Cajanek redirected Rolinek’s shot/pass past Gustavsson with 11:12 left in the third.

The Czech Republic had a chance to tie it as they would ring another one off the post with 8:52 left while on a power play but they couldn’t get the tying goal and Kenny Jonsson iced it as he let go a bomb with 2:14 left in the contest.

Game. Set. Match.

The Czechs would outshoot the Swedes 34-20 in the game but it didn’t matter. Gustavsson was named the Player of the Game for Sweden.

Rostislav Olesz skated on the fourth line but only had two shifts in the first period for 1:21.

First Round
United States (4) vs Latvia (2) - Saturday April 25
United States (6)  vs Austria (1) - Monday April 27
United States (5) vs Sweden (6) (SO) - Wednesday April 29

Qualifying Round
United States (6) vs France (2) - Friday May 1
United States (1)  vs Russia (4) - Saturday May 2
United States (3) vs Switzerland (4) - Monday May 4

United States (3) vs Finland (2) - Wednesday May 6

United States vs Russia - Friday May 8

Keith Ballard - 7 GP - 1 Goal - 2 Assist - 12 Shots - 98:53 Total Ice Time - +2 +/- Rating

First Round
Czech Republic (5) vs Denmark (0) - Saturday April 25
Czech Republic (5) vs Norway (2) - Monday Apirl 27
Czech Republic (3) vs Finland (4) - Wednesday April 29

Qualifying Round
Czech Republic (1) vs Canada (5) - Thursday April 30
Czech Republic (8)  vs Slovakia (0) - Saturday May 2
Czech Republic (3) vs Belarus (0) - Sunday May 3

Czech Republic (1) vs Sweden (3) - Thursday May 7

Rostislav Olesz - 7 GP - 1 Assist - 6 Shots - 64:44 Total Ice Time - 1 +/- Rating
Michael Frolik - 0 GP - Shots - Ice Time - +/- Rating

First Round
Latvia (2) vs United States (4) - Saturday April 25
Latvia (3) vs Sweden (2) (SO) - Monday April 27
Latvia (2) vs Austria (0) - Wednesday April 29

Qualifying Round
Latvia (2) vs Switzerland (1) (SO) - Thursday April 30
Latvia (7)  vs France (1) - Saturday May 2
Latvia (1)  vs Russia (6) - Sunday May 3

Latvia (2) vs Canada (4) - Thursday May 7

Karlis Skrastins (C) - 6 GP - 1 Goal - 1 Assist - 11 Shots - 140:17 Total Ice Time - +2 +/- Rating
Janis Sprukts - 6 GP - 1 Assist - 7 Shots - 127:10 Total Ice Time - 0 +/- Rating

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