International Ice Hockey Federation

France wins!

France wins!

Stephane da Costa gets two shootout goals

Published 13.05.2017 00:59 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
France wins!
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 12: France's Stephane Da Costa #14 scores on Belarus's Kevin Lalande #35 in the shootout during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
France blew a lead, came back, and won in a thrilling shootout. Cristobal Huet was fantastic, and the penalty killers were sensational.

Indeed, the French penalty killers were extraordinary, killing off one penalty in the final minute of regulation that carried over to the overtime, and then another minor in the overtime itself. In all, they were short-handed for three of the five overtime minutes.

Huet, playing in his record-tying 13th top-level World Championship, was letter perfect in these moments; the defence blocked countless shots; and, Belarus had some bad luck, hitting the post twice when another inch or two might have meant victory.

"We played a very intense game yesterday against Canada," Huet noted. "Tonight we faced a desperate team and it was really hard to keep it up. But I think the guys showed a lot of character and spirit to come back."

In the shootout, da Costa came though under pressure. Mikhail Stefanovich scored on the first shot for Belarus, but France missed its first two. Da Costa then beat Kevin Lalande with a great deke. 

In the fourth round of shots, the two scorers went again, but this time Huet stopped Stefanovich and da Costa scored again to give France the win.

The two-point victory vaults France into a fourth-place tie with Finland and Norway with seven points and leaves Belarus in a precarious situation, in a tie for seventh with just one point. 

"It was great," enthused longtime captain Laurent Meunier. "I think we had a good start. We played very well at the beginning. Then they scored their first goal and all of a sudden they got good energy. We lost the momentum. Maybe we were a little tired from the game yesterday. But we've got character. Our guys showed resilience today again, and that's what I love about our team."

"It's very frustrating," offered Belarus forward Charles Linglet. "The power play has been a big issue. We had some chances. Right at the end of the game, we hit two posts. But luck wasn’t on our side. We took the lead. We had a little bit of a cushion, felt somewhat comfortable. But things turn around real quick in a shootout. We couldn’t capitalize and it sucks."

France was the better team in the first period and was rewarded with its only goal. Teddy da Costa started the play on an odd-man rush, getting the puck to Sacha Treille. Treille wired a hard shot over the glove of Lalande at 12:29.

Despite dominating the opening 20 minutes, though, the French could not build on their lead. They did, however, manage to make it 2-0 just 54 seconds into the second on a power play that had carried over from the first.

Antoine Roussel made a great no-look pass to Damien Fleury at the top of the circle, and he, too, beat Lalande over the glove.

Belarus got back into it six minutes later on a bit of bad luck for the French. Floran Douay was at his blue line when the puck came at him. He lost it in his equipment, and when it landed Yegor Sharangovich claimed it. He took a shot that was stopped by Huet, but as the rebound bounced in the air, Alexander Pavlocich batted it in. No video review was needed to confirm it was a high stick—and it wasn’t.

Off the next faceoff things got testy. It appeared Loic Lamperier speared Pavlovich at the drop of the puck, and the Belorussian lay on the ice in seeming agony. But the referees decided not to call a penalty, and after being helped off the ice Pavlovich returned to the ice soon after without missing a  shift.

Soon after, Danila Karaban suffered a left leg injury that looked more serious. He, too, was helped off the ice, but he didn't return, and his status is unknonw right now.

Late in the period Belarus tied the game on another odd play. Charles Linglet fed a nice pass to Sharangovich hustling to the net, and Huet made the save on the re-direct. But the Laurent Meunier, trying to check Sharangovich, got his skate tied up for a moment in Huet’s pads, and the puck trickled between the goalie’s pads and over the line.

An early penalty in the third put the home side in a tough position. A beuatiful tic-tac-toe play between Artyom Demkov to Sergei Kostitsyn to Alexander Kulakov drifting through the slot gave Belarus a 3-2 lead at 1:20. France's impressive 2-0 lead was now a distant memory.

The French had a magnificent opportunity to tie the game and perhaps re-take the lead. Belarus captain Andrei Stas took a four-minute high-sticking penalty after cutting Kevin Hecquefeuille accidentally, but their shooting accuracy left something to be desired and Lalande was good when he had to be. Stas returned to the ice with his team still in the lead.

France got a bit of its own luck on the tying goal form Pierre-Edouard Bellemare at 12:35. His bad-angle shot from near the boards went off Lalande's glove and in, a weak goal to allow at such a critical point, to be sure.

Belarus next plays Slovenia tomorrow while France has a day off before playing the Czechs on Sunday.


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