Dominik Simon scored a Forsberg-style shootout winner to give the underdogs a huge victory.
The Czechs took the cheer out of the large Canadian crowd with an early goal. Some sloppy play around their own goal allowed David Kampf to push the puck past Jake Paterson in goal. Paterson was making his second straight start but didn’t look sharp on that weak shot.
Canada dominated the rest of the period, though and got the only two power plays. The first one was effective but without a goal, and the second one saw Canada tie the game thanks to a fine shift from 16-year-old Connor McDavid.
He made a good rush to set up one scoring chance, and then he teamed with Bo Horvat and Sam Reinhart to make it 1-1 at 15:50. The play was textbook material, the kind of video a coach could teach 5-on-4 play with. McDavid got the puck at the top of the faceoff circle and passed to Horvat at the side of the goal. He wasted no time in finding Reinhart in the slot between all four Czech defenders, and his quick shot found the mark.
A short time later, McDavid set up Derrick Pouliot for another great chance, but in the second period he made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons. Caught on a long shift, he took a tired hooking penalty at 15:15, and Michal Plutnar scored one second after its expiration. McDavid hadn’t even stepped on the ice by the time Plutnar’s point shot eluded Paterson.
Then, as time expired and McDavid skated in on a rush, he fired the puck into the open net after the buzzer, prompting a scrum in the corner. Plutnar hammered McDaivd in the corner, earning a minor penalty.
Regardless, Canada looked anything but sharp and the Czechs looked, if nothing else, thoroughly inspired and up for the challenge. After two periods, the underdogs also found themselves with a solid 2-1 lead.
It was a short-lived advantage. Just 24 seconds into the final period Jonathan Drouin blasted a hard shot on the fresh ice past Marek Langhammer to make it a 2-2 game. Plutnar's fine goal was offset by his retaliatory penalty which eliminated the lead he created.
Canada got a power play soon after, but off the faceoff McDavid took a lazy hooking penalty, creating a 4-on-4 with a faceoff deep in the Canadian end. Right from the drop of the puck, Vojtech Tomecek snapped the puck through Paterson's legs, officially two seconds after McDavid's penalty, and the Czechs again had a lead, 3-2.
Canada, ever resilient, rallied again, most improbably. After taking a too many men penalty, Canada looked in deep trouble, but a great rush by captain Scott Laughton left a giant rebound for defenceman Aaron Ekblad to bury at 11:09.
Before the penalty had expired, though, the Czechs went up 4-3. A long blast from Jakub Vrana eluded Paterson over the shoulder, yet anothe rsuspect goal on the night.
Charles Hudon made up for it 16 seconds later when his wrister beat Langhammer in the same location. Call it 4-4 in a game neither team seemed able to control.
Both teams next play on Monday, Canada against Slovakia and the Czechs against the Germans.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)
February 22 postgame quotes: Mike Stothers
24 minutes ago