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World Championship

Slovakia Plays For Gold

Kopecky, Slovakia will play for World Championship gold Sunday after Slovakia defeated the Czech Republic 3-1.

Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 3:05 PM ET / World Championship
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Slovakia Plays For Gold

Slovakia 3, Czech Republic 1

Longtime NHL player Miroslav Satan scored twice, including the eventual winner, and the Slovaks rode a brilliant performance from goaltender Jan Laco and another clutch third period to earn a berth in the championship game against Russia at the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Both teams were considered underdogs in their quarterfinal matchup, especially Slovakia, who upset top-seeded Canada thanks to a late tip-in from Michal Handzus. The Czechs qualified for the semis with a goal in the final minute from Milan Michalek against Sweden, but no late-game heroics took place in this matchup between neighboring countries. With the win, last year's tournament hosts will have a chance to win their first world championship since 2002.

Slovakia came out firing in the first period, outshooting the Czechs 11-8 and getting the game-opening goal from Satan, who earned his third of the tournament with just under five minutes remaining in the frame. Unhappy with the first 20 minutes, the Czechs took over in the second, tying the game when Tomas Plekanec won an offensive zone faceoff and fed the puck directly to Michal Frolik, who beat Laco low with a quick shot. Despite outshooting the Slovaks 14-7 in the period, things turned for the Czechs with 3:25 remaining in the second when Frolik appeared dazed following a hit from Mario Bliznack.

Czech Alois Hadamczik, who lost star forward Martin Erat midway through the first on a similar play, was enraged that a penalty wasn't called. Frolik returned in the final period.

The Czechs had problems recovering from the loss of Erat, who was tied for the team lead with three goals in just five tournament games and played only four shifts before coming out of the semifinal contest. Lacking that offensive firepower would benefit the Slovaks, who came into the game outscoring the opposition 8-1 in the third period. With Bliznack serving a tripping penalty to start the third, the Czech Republic came out firing. But Satan struck again while on the penalty kill, pouncing on a loose puck following a Handzus poke check and beating Jakub Kovar to give his team the lead 56 seconds into the final period. Libor Hudacek doubled the Slovak lead 3:27 later and Laco took over from there, stopping 15 Czech shots in the period and finishing the game with 36 saves.

It's an impressive run for a Slovakian squad that qualified for the playoff round at the Worlds for the first time in five years. They played Russia in the preliminary round of last year's championships, losing 4-3.

Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky finished with two shots on 19:34 of ice time.

FULL STORY (IIHF.com)
FINAL STATS (IIHF.com)

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 73 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jagr 71 15 26 -2 41
J. Jokinen 75 8 33 -2 41
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 75 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 66 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 65 14 17 -1 31
B. Campbell 76 3 22 2 25
B. Pirri 43 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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