May 20, 2012

Chara settles for silver, Krejci wins bronze at Worlds

By Jesse Connolly

Russia completed its perfect run at the IIHF World Championship on Sunday with a 6-2 win over Slovakia, earning the nation its third gold medal in the last five tournaments. 

Zdeno Chara was named Best Defenseman at the 2012 IIHF World Championship. (Getty Images)

The Russian’s trio of NHL superstars – as they have all tournament long – played a huge role in the win. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and two assists, while Washington’s Alex Ovechkin chipped in with two helpers. Evgeni Malkin, who earned tournament MVP honors, closed out the scoring with a goal at the 18:02 mark of the third period.

"We were prepared for the final game," Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov told IIHF.com. "I reminded my team that the Slovak team is very strong. It won against the Czechs, against Canada. We played really well throughout the whole championship."

Bruins d-man and Slovak captain Zdeno Chara had both goals for his squad. He tallied just 1:06 into the game to give Slovakia an early lead, but the Russians then scored five-straight goals, chasing previously-red-hot netminder Jan Laco. Chara notched his second goal of the game on the power play with 10:23 left in regulation, but that was as close as the Slovaks would get.

"We were disappointed to lose the game, but not in how we finished the tournament," said Chara, whose team entered the game riding a seven-game winning streak after dropping their first two tilts. "It's a privilege to play in the final and I tried to tell the guys to enjoy the moment. You never know when you get a chance to do that again."

After the game, Chara paid tribute to his longtime friend and fellow countryman, Pavol Demitra, who perished in the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv plane crash last September.

Chara was named Best Defenseman in the tournament and sported a Demitra jersey with the No. 38 proudly displayed on the front when he accepted his silver medal and Player of the Game award.

"We all know we play not just for us, but for our country," Chara said after Slovakia’s 3-1 win over the Czech Republic in the semifinals. "Obviously, since the tragedy that happened, we know it's not just for us, it's also for Pavol."

Czech’s win bronze

Prior to the battle between Russia and Slovakia for the gold medal, the Czech Republic and Finland squared off in the consolation game with the bronze medal on the line.

With his team holding a 2-1 lead late in the first period, Bruins center David Krejci scored on a feed from Oilers winger Ales Hemsky to put the Czechs ahead by a score of 3-1.

Hurricanes’ forward Jussi Jokinen tallied with 9:01 gone in the third to cut the deficit in half, but Finland’s comeback bid fell short as the Czech Republic hung on for a 3-2 victory.

"It feels pretty good. The loss against Slovakia yesterday hurt," said Krejci, whose goal proved to be the game-winner. "We let the final slip away, but that’s how it goes. At this tournament, it comes down to one game, and it didn’t work for us yesterday. We regrouped pretty well last night and today, and the bronze medal feels pretty good right now."

The next IIHF World Championship will begin in May of 2013. The tournament will again be hosted by both Finland and Sweden. 

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