Boston Bruins fans will get to enjoy a different kind of deep playoff run as the two Bruins in the IIHF World Championship advance to the semifinals and keep their medal hopes alive. Sure, it's not the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but either Zdeno Chara or David Krejci could very well bring their home country some glory soon.
In a busy day where all four quarterfinal games were played, things kicked off with Slovakia beating Canada 4-3. The Florida Panthers' Tomas Kopecky started the scoring for the Slovaks about six minutes into the first period and soon former Bruin Miroslav Satan extended the lead to 2-0. However, Canada wasn't going to give up without a fight. Before the first period ended, Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets put Canada on the board and Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes tied it up in the second. Canada also tasted having a lead when the Vancouver Canucks' Alexandre Burrows made it 3-2 later in the middle act. Slovakia knotted it up this time with a Milan Bartovic goal and this score held for much of the third until an incident involving Ryan Getzlaf from the Anaheim Ducks.
Getzlaf came in alongside Juraj Mikus with the intent of getting the puck from him, but instead kneed him so that he fell to the ice and needed assistance just to get to the tunnel, where he was shown still keeled over in pain. That ended both Mikus' and Getzlaf's nights early, and just seconds after Slovakia went on the power play, Michal Handzus of the San Jose Sharks popped in the go-ahead goal. That late goal was all they needed to hold on for the victory.
In this game, Chara took two shots on goal and once again led his team in time on ice with more than 25 minutes.
The Czech Republic beat Sweden, also 4-3, also relying on a late-game goal to do so following a blown lead. While Loui Eriksson from the Dallas Stars opened the scoring for Sweden, Petr Nedved put the Czechs on the board and Jiri Novotny added to the lead before the first period ended. In the second period, while the Czechs were on the power play, Martin Erat from the Nashville Predators scored--with an assist from Krejci. Suddenly, it sounded very quiet inside Stockholm's Globe Arena.
But the home team started staging a comeback: Henrik Zetterberg from the Detroit Red Wings scored an unassisted goal just before the second period ended, thinning the margin before intermission. Jonathan Ericsson, also of the Red Wings, evened things up at the start of the third. Both Zetterberg and Ericsson's goals involved 45 seconds: Zetterberg's was with 45 seconds left to play in a period, Ericsson's came 45 minutes after the start of another.
Just when it looked like Sweden might be able to force overtime, Milan Michalek from the Ottawa Senators scored for the Czechs with less than a minute in regulation. Sweden angled for their own very late game miracle to match, but to no avail.
Russia will meet Finland in the semifinals, but the Slovakia-Czech Republic semifinal game will pit one Bruin against another for the chance to win a medal. The Czechs got the bronze last year. On the other hand, Slovakia hasn't earned any hardware since they won silver in 2000.
As a fan, it's going to be unusual to see Chara and Krejci playing against one another. I'm sure the commentators will also remind us that they're usually on the same team. But no matter what happens, it will be fun to see them continue to go for glory.
Both semifinal games will be played on May 19. Click here for more news from the tournament.