Czechs don`t pass up opportunity for first WJC win
George Sorensen of Denmark is run over by David Pastrnak of the Czech Republic during the 2015 World Junior Championship at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Monday December 29, 2014. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)
David Pastrnak has played 28 pro games with the Boston and Providence Bruins this season.
He knows an NHL-calibre pass when he sees it.
So when Jan Stencel gave him a gorgeous breakaway feed, the likes of which you`d see on a regular basis in the NHL, one minute in overtime, he took full advantage of the pass.
Stencel undressed Danish brick wall Georg Sorensen to rescue the Czechs and avoid the nation’s first 0-3 start in its 21-year World Junior Championship history.
“Great pass by our D,” the 18-year-old said after the stunning 4-3 comeback win before 12,038 Monday at Air Canada Centre. “It was bad ice, so the puck bounced a little bit. It was a little bit lucky, but I think we deserved this luck.”
The desperate Czechs pounded 48 shots at little Sorensen, who had been yanked after a three-goal first period Saturday against Sweden. Denmark nursed a one-goal lead until Czech captain Dominik Kubalik banged home the equalizer with 3:02 left in regulation.
“We’re down (in the third) and to think we were in position to (be in the relegation round), it was a terrible feeling,” said Pastrnak, the 25th overall pick by the Bruins last June. “It started with the third line. They went to the net and did a great job. We deserved to score. I’m happy for the whole country we won and I hope they are going to believe in us and we can make them proud.”
Still, the Czechs have some major flaws. Their penalty killing is nearly non-existent, surrendering six goals in three games — two of them to the Danes.
They can’t hold leads and their starts aren’t so hot, either. Goalie Vitek Vanecek surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced.
But they have a character-building win now. They’re still in the quarterfinal hunt.
“We felt a lot of pressure,” Pastrnak said. “Everybody said it’s just Denmark, but they’ve played great hockey and I think they can play tight with any team in this tournament.”
They did in their opener against Russia and earned a point. Now, the revived Czechs have to find a way to do the same — or more — on Wedensday.