Radek Dvořák’s first goal at an IIHF World Championship since 2001 gave the Czech Republic a 3-2 semi-final victory over Sweden in overtime. The result sets up a repeat of the 1996 Vienna tournament’s finale, with the Czechs facing Canada for the gold medal Sunday.
At 4:43 of the extra frame, Dvořák took a pass from Marek Židlický inside the Swedish blueline and leaned into a wrister that boomeranged out from under the crossbar before Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist could react with his glove. The Czechs leapt off the bench in celebration, but similar to Anson Carter’s OT goal on Mikael Tellqvist in the 2003 Canada-Sweden gold medal game, they had to refrain from full jubilation until video review confirmed the goal was good.
“It was a very equal match,” said Czech Head Coach Vladimir Růžička. “Sweden was very well-prepared. We didn’t expect them to be so good. I think Sweden was one of the best and hardest teams in the tournament. We were lucky on Thursday [versus the Americans], and we were lucky again today.”
It was a vintage defensive struggle between these two rivals, and it finished by the same score as the last time the Czech Republic and Sweden met in the 2001 tournament in Germany. Final shots on goal favored Sweden 34-31.
“We played one hell of a game against a real good team,” said Swedish Head Coach Bengt-Åke Gustafsson. “We matched them and we felt like the stronger team in overtime, but we didn’t manage to win it. And now we have to look forward to tomorrow.”
Petr Čajánek and Martin Straka had the other Czech goals, while Jonas Höglund and Daniel Sedin replied for Sweden.
“It was a tough game to lose,” said Sweden’s Daniel Alfredsson. “We played hard for 60 minutes and overtime. We had our chances but it didn’t go our way today. They made a good play inside the blueline and Dvořák made a perfect shot. It’s tough for the goalie to save that.”
The opening moments were tight-checking and tactically played. In the fourth minute, Jaromír Jágr stickhandled his way from the left corner to the front of the net, and almost put it past Lundqvist, but his in-close shot hit Swedish defenceman Thomas Rhodin’s skate and was kicked away. At the other end, Tomáš Vokoun wandered out of his net and had to scramble back for a save before Sammy Påhlsson’s shot could find the back of the goal.
Jágr continued to be dangerous, setting up Martin Straka for a shot that went through Lundqvist, forcing the Swedish goalie to flop back and cover the loose puck. And with Marek Židlický off for slashing midway through the period, Vokoun alertly stopped multiple Rhodin point blasts through traffic during the power play.
At 13:41, Jágr went down in the corner with an apparent injury and a stretcher was rushed out. But the superstar skated off under his own power and would return for a late period Czech man advantage. Petr Sýkora fed David Výborný from behind the Swedish net, forcing Lundqvist to react quickly to make the stop.
The Swedes did little with their next power play after Martin Ručinský hauled down Henrik Zetterberg going hard to the Czech goal at 15:20. Vokoun’s toughest stop was a fluttering Christian Bäckman drive from the blueline.
The Czechs had a flurry of good chances around Lundqvist’s net after Ronnie Sundin was sent off for tripping at 17:04. But it was after the return to even strength that they thought they’d gotten the opening goal. Petr Čajánek forced a puck under Lundqvist in the midst of a mad scrum, but it was ruled that the period-ending buzzer had already sounded, and that stood up under review.
Tre Kronor started to press toward the midway point of the second period after a barrage of penalties in the early going. Vokoun had to make a tremendous save sliding to his right after Zetterberg fed an unchecked Bäckman a beautiful backhanded pass from the faceoff circle. Big Mattias Norström laid one of the tournament’s best hits on Aleš Hemský in front of the Czech bench, sending the young forward spinning.
Mattias Norström was instrumental in Sweden’s opening goal at 11:39 of the second, 10 ticks after a Martin Ručinský minor for cross-checking had expired. Norström sent a light wrister toward Vokoun, which bounced off his pads for Jonas Höglund to tuck home while being checked down by a defenceman in front.
But the Czechs had a reply. At 15:03, Čajánek got the goal that had eluded him in the first period when he cruised unchecked into the Swedish zone to take a beautiful cross-ice feed from Sýkora and blast a slapshot over Lundqvist’s glove. The Czech crowd erupted. Seconds later, the goal judge prematurely flashed the red light behind Lundqvist again, and the excitement stayed at a fever pitch.
Four-on-four play closed out the period with Sýkora and Bäckman serving coincidental minors. The best opportunity was Ručinský, but he only slammed the puck off the side of the net after getting loose on left wing for a rush against Lundqvist.
Straka gave the Czechs a 2-1 lead at 5:16 of the third period when he whacked a Václav Prospal shot out of mid-air past Lundqvist’s glove side.
Sweden’s brother duo had an answer. With one second left in a Tre Kronor power play, Henrik Sedin fed a neat back pass from just past Vokoun’s left post, finding Daniel, who put it in from close range over the prone Czech netminder. The score was 2-2 with 7:57 left in regulation time.
Lundqvist made several outstanding saves down the stretch to send this game into 4-on-4 overtime, and there Sweden had the best early chances. Henrik Zetterberg got himself into the clear off left wing and shot wide. Daniel Sedin set up Bäckman right in front–another miss. And the Swedes are left to regret what might have been–but not for too long, as they will face Russia for bronze in the early game on Sunday.
“There’s only one winner at this championship, and that’s the one who wins the gold medal,” said Alfredsson. “I’m very disappointed right now. I don’t know if I can [get ready for the bronze medal game]. It’ll be really hard. Hopefully we can find some motivation.”
The last two occasions on which Canada won gold at the IIHF World Championship while a Czech(oslovakian) team took silver were 1948 and 1961. The Czechs also won gold in Prague 1985, with Canada coming in second, and the same scenario played out in 1996.
“I think we played great in that [2004 World Cup semi-final versus Canada],” reminisced Vokoun. “We were certainly a much better team in the overtime than Canada was. It was a bad breakdown in our zone and Lecavalier was all alone, and he took a great shot. Sometimes you have to take it. They were a little bit luckier.”
“They have a great team and they’ve put up good offensive numbers,” said Prospal of facing Canada. “Obviously in the final you don’t expect to get a team that’s easy to beat. We just have to come with our best game and hopefully it’ll be enough to beat them.”
11:09 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Židlický, slashing
15:20 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Ručinský, holding
17:04 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Sundin, tripping
20:39 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Kronwall, roughing
22:43 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Hedström, hooking
26:08 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Výborný, hooking
29:29 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Ručinský, cross checking
31:39 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Höglund (Norström)
32:05 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Kronwall, interference
35:03 – 🇨🇿 GOAL – Čajánek (Sýkora)
38:01 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Bäckman, holding
38:01 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Sýkora, hooking
42:27 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Šlégr, interference
45:16 – 🇨🇿 GOAL – Straka (Prospal)
50:04 – 🇨🇿 PEN – Kubina, hooking
52:03 – 🇸🇪 PP GOAL – D. Sedin (H. Sedin)
53:28 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Påhlsson, hooking
64:43 – 🇨🇿 GOAL – Dvořák (Židlický)
W: 🇨🇿 Vokoun (32-34)
L: 🇸🇪 Lundqvist (28-31)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇿 12+11+6+2 = 31
🇸🇪 11+13+10+0 = 34
🇨🇿 Goaltenders: Milan Hnilička, Tomáš Vokoun. Defence: Jiří Fischer, Jan Hejda, František Kaberle, Tomáš Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Jiří Šlégr, Jaroslav Špaček, Marek Židlický. Forwards: Petr Čajánek, Radek Dvořák, Aleš Hemský, Jan Hlaváč, Jaromír Jágr, Václav Prospal, Martin Ručinský, Martin Straka, Petr Sýkora, Václav Varaďa, Josef Vašíček, David Výborný.
🇸🇪 Goaltenders: Stefan Liv, Henrik Lundqvist. Defence: Christian Bäckman, Magnus Johansson, Niklas Kronwall, Sanny Lindström, Mattias Norström, Thomas Rhodin, Ronnie Sundin. Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson, Per-Johan Axelsson, Johan Franzén, Jonathan Hedström, Jonas Höglund, Jörgen Jönsson, Peter Nordström, Samuel Påhlsson, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mattias Weinhandl, Henrik Zetterberg.
|🇨🇿 CZECHIA (C)||vs.||SWEDEN 🇸🇪|
(since 12 May 2005)
||08 May 2005|
(+ 9 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (CZE vs. SWE)
🇸🇪 SWE 4-2 TCH 🇨🇿 – 13 Feb 1949 – WC – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CZE vs. SWE)
🇨🇿 CZE 5-2 SWE 🇸🇪 – 07 Nov 2002 – KT – Pardubice 🇨🇿
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇿 CZE 3-2 USA 🇺🇸 (SO) – 12 May 2005 – WC – Vienna 🇦🇹
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇿 CZE 3-0 CAN 🇨🇦 – 15 May 2005 – WC – Vienna 🇦🇹 🏅