May 17, 2012

Bruins Krejci, Chara will meet in IIHF semifinals

By Jesse Connolly

While Bruins David Krejci and Zdeno Chara would much rather still be competing for the Stanley Cup, one of them is now guaranteed to have a shot at winning a gold medal at this year’s IIHF World Championship. 

David Krejci has six points in eight games for the Czechs, putting him in a three-way tie for the team lead. (Getty)

Following Thursday’s action, the tournament was whittled down to four remaining teams. Chara and Slovakia will square off with Krejci and the Czech Republic on Saturday in the semifinals.

For the first time in seven tries, the Slovaks were finally able to defeat Canada. Slovakia, captained by Chara, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first pe riod on goals from Tomas Kopecky and former Bruin Miroslav Satan.

Jets forward Evander Kane cut the lead in half late in the first period and Carolina’s Jeff Skinner scored the equalizer 6:30 into the second period with a power-play goal. With 2:17 remaining in the middle frame, Canucks winger Alex Burrows beat Jan Laco to give Canada a 3-2 lead.

With 3:25 gone in the third, Milan Bartovic evened things up at three apiece, beating Cam Ward at even strength. At the 17:28 mark of the period, Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf was given an untimely major penalty for kneeing (as well as a game misconduct). Slovakia capitalized, as Michal Handzus tallied a mere four seconds later.

Shorthanded for the remainder of the contest, Canada’s bid to tie things up again fell short, as Chara and the Slovaks hung on for the win.

Krejci’s quarterfinal contest, conversely, didn’t get off on the right foot, as Loui Eriksson gave Sweden a 1-0 lead at the 7:10 mark, with Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen picking up the assists.

But the Czech Republic responded quickly. Alternate captains Petr Nedved and Jiri Novotny each tallied before the end of the frame, giving the Czechs a 2-1 lead going into the second period.

With 10:27 gone in the second, Krejci set up Martin Erat for a power play goal. The Czechs were 45 seconds away from taking a two-goal lead into the third until Zetterberg tallied at the 19:15 mark to cut the lead in half.

Sweden carried momentum into the third and knotted thing up just 45 seconds in with Jonathan Ericsson beat Jakub Kovar. The score remained tied until Czech winger Milan Michalek beat Viktor Fasth with just 29 seconds left in regulation on a 2-on-1 to lift his squad to victory.

Michalek is looking forward to their battle with the Slovaks.

"We speak the same language, and we have lots of friends on their team," the Senators winger told IIHF.com. "It’s a semi-final, so it’s going to be a great game. They beat Team Canada and that’s one of the best teams here. Their goalie is playing well. It’ll be a tough game."

Rounding up the rest of Thursday’s quarterfinal play, Team USA lost to Finland by a score of 3-2, as Jesse Joensuu scored the game-winning goal with just nine ticks left in the third. Finland will take on Russia in the other semifinal matchup, as the Russians defeated Norway 5-2.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.