BRATISLAVA – The Czechs punched their ticket to the Qualifying Round with a 6-0 thumping of winless Denmark Monday afternoon at Orange Arena. Michael Frolik and Milan Michalek led the attack with two goals apiece.
Czech Republic – Denmark 6-0 (1-0, 4-0, 1-0) Game Sheet Photos
Forward Tomas Plekanec, who tallied the fifth Czech goal, and defenceman Zbynek Michalek made their tournament debut. The Czechs played a patient game and didn’t expend too much energy.
The Danes, who mounted just nine shots in a 5-1 loss to Finland, fared even worse here while being outshot 35-24. They’ll face a must-win situation against Latvia to avoid the Relegation Round on Wednesday, while the Czechs will look to claim first place in Group D versus Finland that day.
"Finland is a great team, and it's not going to be an easy game," said Martin Havlat.
"We played 50 minutes okay today, and then we played ten really bad minutes, and that's just not acceptable," said Danish defenceman Mads Bödker, alluding to his team's second-period collapse. "It's too bad."
Czech netminder Ondrej Pavelec earned his first career World Championship shutout.
At 2:29, Frolik opened the scoring for the Czechs on a 2-on-1, looking off to Jiri Novotny before deking Danish goalie Patrick Galbraith and firing it home high on the stick side.
The Danes narrowly missed a chance to equalize when Nichlas Hardt’s spinaround shot on the rush clanged off Pavelec’s right post.
A two-man Danish advantage near the five-minute mark of the second period yielded nothing. Pavelec stopped Daniel Nielsen’s centre-point blast through traffic, and the Danes failed to exploit the Czechs’ inability to get a change for their three defenders.
"Had they scored on the 5-on-3, it would have been a different game," said Havlat.
The Danes then fell apart completely, surrendering four goals in just over four minutes.
The Czechs went up 2-0 at 11:34 when Marek Zidlicky’s stretch pass sprang Michalek, who walked in and knifed a backhand between Galbraith’s pads.
It was 3-0 Czechs less than two minutes later, as Michalek tapped in a lovely down-low set-up from Patrik Elias and Havlat.
"Milan and Patrik are great players, and we're all a little different kinds of players, so we complement each other on the ice," said Havlat.
At 14:25, Frolik tipped home Petr Caslava’s fluttering shot from the left point, and 13 seconds later, Plekanec waltzed in and flung one past Galbraith.
As Horatio said to that well-known Danish citizen, Hamlet: "Good night, sweet Prince."
With two minutes left in the middle frame, Elias was hauled down by Jesper B. Jensen but foiled on a penalty shot attempt where he tried to curl his way in slowly and deke the netminder.
Petr Prucha rounded out the scoring for the Czechs with 3:37 left in the third period, banging in a nice centering pass from behind the goal line by Frolik.
It was a fun afternoon for the pro-Czech crowd, including a particularly enterprising duo behind the Danish bench who held up a national flag that flashed “CESI DO TO HO” in white neon letters.
Denmark has never defeated the Czech Republic at the IIHF World Championship. In their two previous encounters, the Czechs won 5-2 (2008) and 5-0 (2009).
"Now we're facing a really important game against Latvia," said Mads Bödker. "We'll just have to focus on that, and make sure we don't make the same mistakes again."