Patient France prevails
Patient France prevails
Two late goals give France a comfortable 4-1 over Kazakhsan
Everybody knew what was at stake. The winner of the game would have everything in their own hands on Sunday when the last games will be played. The loser would be in trouble.
France came out on top and won the game 4-1. Damien Fleury scored twice and Cristobal Huet - who will be celebrating his 41st birthday on Saturday - made 23 saves for France.
"We knew that the losing team would be out of the tournament and I think we showed a lot of character in this game, coming back even after they scored their goal after 20 seconds," Huet said.
"It wasn't my best game but I could make some important saves toward the end. It was hard to stay focused the entire game," he added, referring to the fact that there were long periods in the game when the puck was in the Kazakhstan zone for several minutes.
Anybody who had seen Kazakhstan’s game against Norway a mere twenty hours earlier knew what to expect when they faced France in their second game in the tournament: good defense, few if any mistakes, and effective scoring when they get a chance.
They demonstrated their effectiveness early on in the game when Nigel Dawes picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and fired the puck past Cristobal Huet off a partial breakaway just 20 seconds into the game.
France controlled the game throughout the period and could generate enough chances to both tie the game and then take the lead.
"We stuck to our plan and we dominated the first period. The secind period was a little more difficult and that's when our goalie showed up, and in the third, he made some timely saves and we could secure the win," France's captain Lauretn Meunier said.
Seven minutes into the period, France had a long attack in the Kazakhstan zone. A Kazakhstan defenseman blocked a shot from the point but the puck bounced to Florian Chakiachvili to the side of the net. Meanwhile Sacha Treille had driven to the net and fallen down. Just as he got back up, Chakiachvili delivered the puck to the front of the net, and Treille could slam it in.
France couldn’t capitalize on their powerplay halfway through the period, but five minutes later, Stephane da Costa’s long diagonal pass from the top of the circle found Damien Fleury on his way to the front of the net. The puck hit Fleury and got redirected past Vitali Kolesnik in Kazakhstan’s goal.
The middle frame was goalless and the longer the period went the more Kazakhstan took over the game, outshooting France 12-7 in the period, but Huet and the French defense could keep the puck out of their net.
France took control of the game in the third period again, and had several high quality chances, including one in which Damien Fleury was all alone with Kolesnik in front of the net but couldn’t beat the goalie. With 4:29 remaining in the game, Jonathan Janil sent Fleury on a breakaway, and this time he didn’t miss his chance. His shot through Kolesnik’s five-hole gave France the two-goal cushion it desperately wanted.
"It was nice to get an easy finish. These games are always tough, so we're happy with the wins," Meunier said.
And two minutes later, Floran Douay found himself on a partial breakaway from the right, and his wrist shot beat Kolesnik low on the blocker side and sealed the final score: France 4, Kazakhstan 1.
"Maybe I'll have a piece of birthday cake tomorrow but we hope to have a bigger party on Sunday," said Huet.
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