Czechs avoid choke, will face U.S. in quarterfinals


The Czech Republic dodged a monumental collapse on Tuesday, building up a four-goal lead before hanging on to beat Slovakia 5-3 at the Shayba Arena.

With the win, the Czechs will now face the high-flying Americans in the quarterfinal.

Getting there, however, was an adventure.

Victory seemed almost certain after Roman Cervenka scored his second goal of the game with under five minutes left in the second period, giving the Czechs a commanding 4-0 lead. That came after his team got off to a fast start, scoring three times in the game’s first 18 minutes while out-shooting the Slovaks 13-7 in the first period.

But after Cervenka’s second marker, the Slovaks woke up.

Marian Hossa ripped off two quick two goals — his only markers of the tournament — before Tomas Surovy scored with 11 minutes left to cut the Czech lead to one. From there, the action was furious. Slovakia peppered Ondrej Pavelec with shots and the Czech goalie did well in the face of pressure, stopping 13 of 15 third period chances to secure the win. Overall, Pavelec stopped 29 of 32 shots; his counterpart, Slovak netminder Jan Laco, kicked out 25 of 29.

Tomas Plekanec scored the insurance marker into an empty net with 39 seconds remaining. He, along with Cervenka, Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci all tallied two points for the Czechs while Hossa, Michal Handzus and Andrej Sekera all notched a pair of points for the Slovaks.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see what Czech team shows up to play the U.S. For two periods on Tuesday, the Czechs looked the best they have all tournament long… but this is also the same squad that slogged through a dysfunctional opening round, winning just one in three tries amidst questionable player selection (see here), illness (see here and here) and a curious distribution of ice time (see here).

Video: Hextall comments on AHL d-man Pyett, who was diagnosed with sarcoma in leg

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Defenseman Logan Pyett of the Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliate has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and will be out indefinitely.

The team said Friday the 27-year-old Canadian has a sarcoma in his upper leg. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall says the club offers “heartfelt thoughts and prayers.”

Pyett signed a one-year contract with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after being at the Flyers’ training camp. He was selected by Detroit in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL entry draft. He signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers in 2012 and spent two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.