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Vrbata and Kotalik score in shootout as Czechs edge Belarus 3-2

The Canadian Press
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Czech Republic Tomas Rolinek celebrates his goal as Belarus goalkeeper Vitali Koval looks on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis Vachon Author: The Hockey News

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Vrbata and Kotalik score in shootout as Czechs edge Belarus 3-2

The Canadian Press
By:

QUEBEC - Radim Vrbata and Ales Kotalik scored in shootout as the Czech Republic survived a scare from plucky Belarus to post a 3-2 victory on Saturday at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Only Dmitri Meleshko was able to score in the shootout for Belarus, which was coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to Russia on Friday. Tomas Rolinek and Ales Kotalik scored in regulation time for the Czechs, who outshot Belrus 43-18, while Yaroslav Chupris and Andrei Kostisyn scored for Belarus.

Later Saturday at the Colisee Russia takes on Sweden.

Belarus didn't get a shot until the 10:00 mark of the opening period against thorough Czech checking, but got some late pressure and turned it into a goal as Milan Hnilicka lelt a big rebound on Meleshko's shot. Two Belarus players fanned on it, but Chupris trailed in to slap it in at the 18:12 mark.

The Czech tied it at 16:53 of the middle period on a disputed goal as Zbynek Irgl's shot was pushed into the net by Rolinek's left skate. Video review upheld the goal, even though Rolinek appeared to reach with his skate to make sure the puck went in. Officials ruled that Rolinek's momentum carried the puck into the net.

But Belarus got a break 9:50 into the third period as a clearing attempt went off the skate of a Czech player heading to the bench and stayed in the zone, so Kostisyn could blast a shot from the high slot that went through Hnilicka's legs.

Kotalik tied it at 13:38 and he converted a feed from the corner by Tomas Plekanec.

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Vrbata and Kotalik score in shootout as Czechs edge Belarus 3-2