France Taken Down by Czech Republic, 5-2

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.

France Narrowly Defeated by Canada

For France, the task was tough: defeat Team Canada to remain in the thick of things in Group B at the IIHF World Hockey Championship. And despite that tall order, they were able to skate with the Canadians, only falling by a goal, 3-2.

For Canada, it was Ryan O’Reilly of the Sabres who got them going, scoring from Nathan MacKinnon and Mark Scheifele at the 5:19 mark of the first period to give them a 1-0 lead. That was a power play goal after France had taken a bench minor for too many men on the ice.

But the French would get the equalizer before the period was through. Olivier Dame-Malka scored at the 9 minute mark from Anthony Rech and Nicolas Ritz to tie things up. The French would have the momentum going into the second period.

That momentum would be helped out a little bit by Chris Lee taking an interference call just 1:24 into the second frame. The French were on the power play and they would capitalize. Damien Fleury scored just 13 seconds into the man advantage from Stephane da Costa and Yohann Auvitu. For Auvitu, that was his fourth point of the tournament (one goal and three assists in four games) and the French had the 2-1 lead.

But again, much like the French did in the first period, the Canadians would grab a late goal to even it up. Claude Giroux scored with less than a minute remaining in the second period from Lee to make it 2-2. That goal was also on the power play. Dame-Malka was serving a cross checking penalty called at the 18:27 mark of the period.

So Canada had knotted things up going into the third period and they would take the final lead of the game early in that period. That came when Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored unassisted just 2:22 in. Canada now had a 3-2 lead and that is how it would end, despite the Canadians giving the French every opportunity. Jeff Skinner was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for spearing 1:30 after the Canada go ahead goal. The French also took a high sticking minor on the same play from Dame-Malka. France would not score on that chance. Scheifele took a cross checking penalty with under six minutes to go in the game, but the French could not get one behind goaltender Chad Johnson there either.

Auvitu’s stat line read one assist for one point, two shots on goal, and a plus-1 rating all in 22:30 of ice time.

For the goalies, France’s Florian Hardy made 32 saves on 35 Canadian shots while Johnson made 22 stops on 24 French shots.

In the end, it was close but no cigar for France. Canada stays atop Group B at 4-0-0-0 with a plus-15 goal differential and 12 points. France moves down to fifth with a 1-1-0-2 record, a plus-3 goal differential and five points.

France’s next challenge is Belarus, who currently stand at the bottom of Group B with four losses, tomorrow at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris.