UFA – With a 4-3 overtime victory over Switzerland on Monday, the Czechs moved on to the Playoff Round. Tomas Hertl scored the winner at 1:39 of the extra frame.
Dmitrij Jaskin cunningly bounced a pass off the back boards to Hertl, who quickly came off the goal line to tuck the puck past Swiss goalie Melvin Nyffeler.
The Czechs now have eight points in Group A, good for second place, pending the results of the Sweden-Finland round-robin finale.
"It was the most important game, because we were playing for everything," said Czech defenceman David Musil. "If we won, we’d make the playoffs."
The Swiss could still make the Playoff Round if the Swedes beat Finland in regulation time.
Switzerland heroically rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit to send the game to extra time. But it wasn't enough. Swiss coach Sean Simpson said he was proud of his players despite losing in extra time for the third straight game.
"I’m very proud that we could take all three of those teams [Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic] to overtime," said Simpson. "There was a little bit of bad luck. How often does a team play three games in a row, go to overtime three times, and lose three times?"
For the Czechs, Michal Svihalek added a goal and an assist, and Matej Beran and Tomas Hyka also scored.
A true standout was Jaskin, who totalled three assists with passes worthy of Wayne Gretzky or Peter Forsberg.
"They were pretty sick," said Musil. "They were big passes that resulted in big goals for us at big moments."
Christian Marti potted a goal and an assist, and Christoph Bertschy and Dario Simion also scored for the Swiss.
"We didn’t quite come out the way we wanted to," said Switzerland's Tanner Richard. "I feel the Czechs came out with more energy. We weren’t quite ready. But we showed great character in the third and we came back. We just fell one shot short."
The Czechs are hoping to win their first medal at this tournament since 2005’s bronze.
Goalie Patrik Bartosak made his third start for the Czechs, posting 26 stops. Nyfeller did likewise for the Swiss and recorded 27 saves.
At 3:46 of the first period, the Czechs took a 1-0 lead when Svihalek fanned on his shot off the rush and Beran hustled to the goal crease and tucked in the loose puck.
The Czechs couldn’t capitalize during a mid-period two-man advantage that lasted 1:15, fanning on attempted point shots repeatedly as the Swiss maintained their cool.
Switzerland made it 1-1 with 5:40 left in the first period. Marti stepped into an enormous drive from inside the blue line that beat Bartosak through traffic.
The Czechs went up 2-1 at 3:58 of the second period on a beautiful play. Jaskin swooped behind the goal line and put a no-look, backhand pass in front of the net, where Svihalek converted it.
Jaskin continued to make an impact, hammering Tanner Richard into the boards in the Swiss end. Moments later, the 19-year-old Russian-born winger played set-up man again, taking a pass from Radek Faksa on the rush, and then backhanding it blindly through two Swiss defenders in front for Tomas Hyka to put home for a 3-1 lead at 6:46.
Bartosak looked sharp three minutes into the third period, gloving down a quick shot off the rush by Bertschy, the Swiss captain.
Czech defenceman Petr Sidlik blocked a shot near the seven-minute mark and threw down his gloves and stick, crumpling to the ice and crawling off in pain. However, he would stay in the game.
The Swiss cut the deficit to 3-2 on the power play with 8:25 left, as Bertschy circled into the middle of the Czech zone and fooled Bartosak with a high shot.
Nyffeler did his best to give his team a chance, stopping Beran in close on a 2-on-1 feed from Czech captain Lukas Sedlak with four and a half minutes remaining.
Marek Hrbas took a delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass in his own zone, and the Swiss capitalized. Marti's blast from the line went in off Dario Simion's chest area, and after video review, the 3-3 goal at 17:59 was ruled good.
But the Czechs rebounded in overtime, and are moving forward.
"I try not to think about how deep [we can go]," said Musil. "We just have to focus on the game in the quarter-finals."
Swiss forward Lukas Rieber did not play, serving his one-game suspension for an illegal check on Finland’s Ville Pokka on December 28.