TEAM CANADA FALLS TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC 6-4
Balastik and Erat score in third period
as Czech Republic beats Canada 6-4
RIGA, Latvia (CP) - Jaroslav Balastik and Martin Erat scored third-period goals on Sunday as the Czech Republic defeated Canada 6-4 at the IIHF world hockey championship.
Balastik and Erat both beat goalie Alex Auld with low shots through the legs as Team Canada played its worst game of the tournament and suffered its first loss.
Petr Hubacek, David Vyborny, Tomas Plekanec and Zbynek Irgl also had goals for the Czech Republic (3-0-2).
Stephane Robidas, Mike Richards, Dan Hamhuis and Sidney Crosby replied for Canada (4-1-0), which finishes the round robin on Monday with a game against Finland.
The Czechs built an early 3-0 lead but didn't put the game away until the third.
Canada trailed 4-3 heading into the final period, but Crosby tied it early with his sixth goal of the tournament. Linemate Patrice Bergeron intercepted a Czech clearing attempt before finding Crosby, who swept a backhander under Milan Hnilicka at 1:01.
Balastik restored the Czech lead at 6:29 on a shot that Auld would like to have back. The Czech winger took a long low shot that beat the Canadian goalie through the five-hole.
Erat put it out of reach when he completed a 2-on-1 with Vyborny at 13:39.
It was an auspicious start for the Canadians, who looked out of synch and disorganized in the opening 20 minutes.
Hubacek got a strange goal at 6:34 to make it 1-0. His shot from in close bounced high in the air off the stick of Canada's Trevor Daley and Auld missed on his attempt to catch it.
The Czechs kept coming and Vyborny made it 2-0 after skating into the Canadian zone untouched and beating Auld with a low shot at 13:30.
Canada looked stunned after Plekanec got behind Hamhuis less than two minutes later and chipped the puck over a sprawling Auld. The Canadians, who hadn't trailed in the tournament, were suddenly down by three.
But Robidas got them some momentum when he walked in off the point and wired a shot by Hnilicka at 15:44. It was the first goal scored by a Canadian defenceman in the tournament.
Canada managed just four shots in the first period against 17 by the Czechs, but more than doubled that output in the first two minutes of the second.
With the team's fifth shot of the middle period, Richards made it 3-2 on a goal that needed to be reviewed by referee Richard Schuetz. He roared to the goal and somehow got the puck under Hnilicka at 1:51.
Hamhuis tied it 3-3 at 11:26 after taking a nice pass from Brad Boyes and blasting a shot through Hnilicka's legs.
Irgl put the Czechs back ahead four minutes later when his shot fooled Auld on the short side.
Notes: Auld had only allowed two goals in his previous two starts .B .B . The Czech Republic has won five world championships since 1996; Canada has won three times over that period .B .B . Canada has lost nine of its past 11 meetings with the Czech Republic at the world championship, including last year's gold-medal game .B .B . The Czech Republic has 10 NHL players on its roster, including Montreal's Jan Bulis and Plekanec and Toronto's Tomas Kaberle.