Team USA came into their game against the Czech Republic playing for pride and a chance to come out of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey with a victory. Unfortunately, they could not come through, falling to the Czechs 4-2 in Toronto.
Both Kyle Palmieri and Cory Schneider were dressed for tonight’s game and in the lineup. Palmieri played primarily on a line with Brandon Dubinsky at center and Justin Abdelkader on the left side. Cory backed up starter Ben Bishop and would see playing time in the third period.
As Canada, Team Europe, Russia and Sweden had already advanced to the next round due to Russia’s 3-0 win over Finland earlier today, the next stage was already set and nothing was at stake in this game.
As mentioned, Bishop got the start and made 16 saves on 20 shots faced. Schneider pitched a shutout stopping all seven Czech shots he saw in the third period. For the home team Czechs, Petr Mrazek got the start, making 36 saves on 39 American shots. Amazingly, Mrazek would take two penalties in the first period totaling four minutes.
The Czech Republic got the scoring kicked off when Zbynek Michalek tipped in a shot from Ondrej Palat. The goal came at 12:44 of the first and actually came on a delayed USA penalty, as Dustin Byfuglien had cross-checked a Czech player on the side of the USA net. Martin Hanzal had the secondary assist.
The United States got even just 2:24 later when Joe Pavelski scored on the power play set up by Mrazek’s roughing penalty on Abdelkader. Pavelski took a feed from the near side from Zach Parise and beat Mrazek stick side. It was the first power play goal of the tournament for the Americans.
Ben Bishop did keep the US in the game early, making a big save early in the second period on a giveaway in the slot.
But the Czechs kept coming. Off a scramble in front of the American net, Milan Michalek scored his first of two on the night when his shot went in off of Ryan Suter’s stick before the net came off of its moorings. Suter actually accidently spun around off the rebound and pretty much shot the puck into his own net. That goal came at 6:03 of the second.
With that goal, both Michalek brothers scored in a game for the first time since their youth hockey days in the Czech Republic.
Justin Abdelkader would get the Americans even again at 14:13 when he took a beautiful pass from Byfuglien, who put the brakes on along the near boards and passed to a trailing Abdelkader who buried it behind Mrazek. Suter had the secondary assist.
But the Czechs would break away from there. First, at 16:50 of the second, Andrej Sustr snuck one in off a bad angle that just got through Bishop’s left-side post. It was now 3-2 Czech Republic. Jakub Voracek and Michael Frolik had the assists on that goal.
And the Czechs would double that lead less than a minute after that when Milan Michalek would score his second of the night, snapping the puck by Bishop with Roman Polak in front of the net. Ales Hemsky and Polak were credited with the assists.
The US would get on the board early in the third period to make it respectable when Ryan McDonagh scored shorthanded at 2:22 of the final frame. Parise was in the box for hooking and the US actually had a 3-on-2 while killing the penalty. The puck went in off of Voracek’s leg and McDonagh finished off a nice pass from Blake Wheeler. Dubinsky had the other assist.
Kyle Palmieri, who was a plus-1 on the night, had two shots on net – including a nice deflection on Mrazek late in the second, three hits, a giveaway and a takeaway in 10:53 of total ice time.
But the Czechs played a good defensive game, especially late when the Americans were pressuring in the third. Early in the third, Polak had a huge check on Parise that rattled the former Devil, but he stayed in the game.
The US had some chances late. Patrick Kane, early in the third, made a nice spin move in front of the net that was stopped by Mrazek. They also gave up plenty of chances. Minutes after that play, Kane gave the puck away in front of the Czech net. The Czechs had a potential 2-on-0, but just dumped the puck in to make the change as their players on the ice were just gassed.
The end of the game was set up when Abdelkader was charging to the Czech net on a 2-on-1 and took a good hooking call, as the Czech trailer hooked his hands. The US pulled Cory from the net to get a 6-on-4 advantage, but could not score. The Czechs narrowly missed an open net goal that would have sealed the deal earlier than it did. Instead, time simply ran out on the US.
There was some postgame physicality that saw Byfuglien drop the gloves with a Czech player after some tussling in the corner. Despite that late show of fire, however, the Americans came away embarrassed in this tournament as they will now return to their respective NHL clubs for training camp.