Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pardubice and Liberec hold on to win on road

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A pair of close, tight-checking games were played on Tuesday night in Czech Extraliga playoff action. Pardubice held off a late charge by Vítkovice to win 3-2 and even the series 2-2, while Liberec got a late empty-net goal to win 3-1 in České Budějovice and take a series lead of the same score.

Vítkovice 2 - 3 Pardubice
(Best-of-seven series tied 2-2)

Jan Starý opened the scoring at the 28-second mark.
Photo: Petr Kotala,
Pardubice evened the series thanks to offence provided by Jan Starý in the first 40 minutes and great goaltending by Martin Růžička in the final 20.

Starý scored a pair of goals for visiting Pardubice in the first half of the opening period to give his team a quick 2-0 lead. On the first shift of the game, a neutral-zone turnover led to the first goal. Eight minutes later, a seemingly harmless shot from the boards found its way into the net.

In the second period, though, Vítkovice got those two goals back. Just past the game's midpoint, Petr Pohl took a pass in the neutral zone, skated in on Růžička, and beat him with a backhander to make it 2-1. Then with 1:19 left i the middle frame, they tied it when a pinball shot from Lukáš Klimek went off the skate of Radovan Somík, the back of Růžička, and in.

The tie was short-lived, though. Just 25 seconds later, Starý got his third point of the evening, setting up Václav Kočí with the eventual winning goal.

It was all Vítkovice in the third period, but they could not beat Růžička. As the final horn went there was a flurry of action around the Pardubice net, but they kept it out to preserve the victory.

České Budějovice 1 - 3 Liberec
(Liberec leads best-of-seven series 3-1)

Fans who watched Tuesday night's game in České Budějovice saw a great goaltending duel between Mountfield's Jakub Kovář and Bílí Tygři's Tomáš Vošvrda. For nearly two periods, the duo was unbeatable. However, Liberec's top line lived up to its billing on this night, as the trio of Petr Nedvěd, Tomáš Urban and Milan Bartovič put on their workboots and provided all of the team's offence.

Before the goals came, Vošvrda was the busier of the two netminders, as his club was back on its heels for a long stretch when they took four penalties in a row. Late in the second period, Liberec started applying the pressure, and Kovář made a blocker save, but Nedvěd put in the rebound in traffic with 4:31 to go in the frame.

The two teams traded goals early in the third. Just 21 seconds in, Nedvěd's shot was deflected mid-air by Urban for the second goal that Kovář had virtually no chance on. Just over two minutes later, the home side got one back when Pavel Kašpařík scored on another deflection.

With five minutes to go, Kašpařík had Budějovice's best chance to tie it from in close, but couldn't beat Vošvrda. Finally, Nedvěd recorded his third point of the game with an empty-net goal to put it away.

Liberec will now be looking to put the series away on home ice on Friday, where they will be looking to advance to the semifinals. Pardubice will also play at home on that night, where they will play the critical swing game against Vítkovice.

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