The Danes have a place in 2017 secured and played relaxed hockey in a 2-1 victory over the Czechs. Their dreams of a place in the quarter-finals remain alive.
They are now in fourth place with eight points, one more than Switzerland, although the Swiss have a game in hand.
“It would be huge for Denmark to go to the quarters,” said captain Morten Green. “It’s only happened one time before in history, so if we can do it that would be huge.”
The Czechs, however, have left an opening for the Russians to take first place in the group. They stay at 15 points, while the Russians have 12 and have played one fewer game.
“We know our abilities, and if we play up to our best and we have a good goalie like we have all tournament then we have a chance to beat anyone,” suggested Morten Madsen. “We know that we’re a good team if we play like we should.”
This was the second straight win in a shootout for the Danes over the Czechs after a 4-3 SO win in 2014.
It also marked the first time Denmark has scored on all three shots in a shootout. They are now 5-for-6 in shootout shots this year.
Interestingly, all scorers in the shootout came in on Czech goalie Dominik Furch at a sharp angle and beat him to the far side, twice over the blocker (Eller, Jensen) and once over the glove (Ehlers).
Lukas Kaspar scored in the shootout for the Czechs while Michal Repik snapped his shot off the post behind goaltender Sebastian Dahm.
“Right from the get-go we took no penalties, played really smart with the puck, didn’t give them any big chances,” Green continued. “Of course, they had a couple, but so did we. I think it was a fair result that we won the game.”
Although the first period was scoreless, it produced three gorgeous scoring chances. Danish defenceman Daniel Nielsen was beat twice on the same 2-on-1, first on a pass from Roman Cervenka to David Pastrnak and then Pastrnak back to Cervenka.
Goalie Dahm over-committed badly, leaving Cervenka with a wide-open net. Nielsen, though, got his stick on the tap-in, making an exceptional save.
Midway through the period, Eller fed a perfect pass to Morten Poulsen, all alone in front. Poulsen had time to line up a shot but drilled it right at Dominik Furch.
And then late in the period, Tomas Plekanec found the puck on his stick to the back side of the play, but Dahm came across and made a great glove grab off another sure goal.
Ironically, the two Czechs who, by rights, should have scored in the first combined for the opening goal early in the second. Cervenka wired a sneaky shot off the post, and the puck bounced out the other side right to Plekanec who snapped it into the open net at 4:09.
The Danes had a great chance to even the score midway through the period when they had a two-man advantage for 1:49, but it went all for naught.
The Danes tied the game at 3:10 of the third period after the Czechs were caught with too many men on the ice. Nicklas Jensen took a quick shot that was re-directed by Frederik Storm. Furch made the save, but Morten Madsen was right there to stuff the loose puck in.
Denmark finishes its Preliminary Round tomorrow night against Kazakhstan, the team that has already been demoted for 2017, while the Czechs have one more game as well before the playoffs, an early game against Switzerland on Tuesday.