Team France faced more stiff competition at the IIHF World Championship today, falling to the Czech Republic by a score of 5 to 2.
Just 8:02 into the game, France’s Laurent Meunier took a holding penalty to set up the Czech power play. It only took 30 seconds before David Pastrnak found the back of the net behind French goalie Florian Hardy. Roman Horak and Jakub Voracek had the assists on the power play goal that gave the Czechs the 1-0 lead.
That lead would hold through the first intermission, and France would tie things up early in the second period. Michal Kempny of the Czech Republic had taken a high sticking double minor at 18:42 of the first. The four minutes bled over into the second period and the French were able to hit pay dirt just 53 seconds into the second frame when Stephane da Costa struck again from Damien Fleury. Da Costa currently stands at third in the tournament in scoring with six goals and three assists for nine points. He is also the top goal scorer. The game was knotted up at one.
Despite the Czechs taking eight minutes in penalties over the course of the second period (including a Vladimir Sobotka double minor for high sticking), they were able to keep France off of the scoresheet and, in fact, ended up taking the lead themselves.
Michal Repik scored at even strength at the 6:52 mark of the second from Tomas Kundratek to give the Czechs the 2-1. France would take a lone penalty at 16:48 of the second when Stephane da Costa went off for hooking, but it was enough to come back and bite them.
On that power play, Jan Rutta scored off an assist to Roman Cervenka at 17:01 to make it 3-1 Czech Republic. The Czechs also added another one early in the third period. At 8:03 of the third frame, Repik beat Hardy (assist to Kempny) to pot his second of the game and put the Czechs up 4-1.
France would quickly answer that goal with an Antoine Roussel unassisted goal at 10:38, but things were getting out of hand for the French. They pulled Hardy with just under four minutes left in the game which would eventually lead to Tomas Zohorna scoring into the empty net (assist to Roman Horak) to make it 5-2 Czechs. And that was your final.
Yohann Auvitu had a shot on goal in 21:08 of ice time spread over 35 shifts.
The Czechs ended up with 28 shots on goal while goaltender Pavel Francouz made 22 saves on the French. The French had 24 shots and Hardy made 23 saves on the Czechs.
France now falls to 1 win, 2 overtime wins and three losses for seven points, placing them in sixth place in Group B. They have a plus-2 goal differential. The Czechs move into second behind Canada with three wins, two overtime wins and one loss for 13 points. Their goal differential is plus-11.
France’s next game comes Monday when they take on Slovenia (who currently sand in last place in Group B with one point) to finish out their Group B play.