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Published on May 12, 2011
Jaromir Jagr gave hockey fans back in the United States a reminder of his offensive skills Wednesday. The 39-year-old former NHL star scored a hat trick to lead the defending champion Czech Republic to a 4-0 win over the Americans in the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship. The Czechs will meet Sweden or Germany in the semifinals. "We didn't play that well as in the previous games. We had a little bit of luck," said Jagr, whose team has a perfect record at the tournament, in great part due to goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. "Ondrej was great and had several great saves in the first period.We looked a bit sleepy," Pavelec stopped 29 shots for the shutout. "It's disappointing," U.S. captain Mark Stuart said. "We had a good team and I think if we played our best game we could beat anybody in this tournament." Jagr beat goalie Ty Conklin on a breakaway to put the Czechs ahead 1-0 with 1:15 remaining in the opening period. "We knew the first goal is going to be huge," Stuart said. "We started really well, we had a few chances, I think we hit the post. After they got their second goal we set back a little bit and that hurt us." The Czechs killed a two-man advantage before Jagr added his second goal in the middle period on a power play with a slap shot from the right circle. Blake Wheeler and James van Riemsdyk were in the penalty box at the time. U.S. coach Scott Gordon called the goal "the major turning point." "That was a big swing right there," he said. "We converted our chances at the crucial moments. That was the difference between the teams," Czech coach Alois Hadamczik said. Tomas Plekanec made it 3-0 in the final period before setting up another one for Jagr to complete the scoring on a power play. It was Jagr's fifth goal of the tournament. "He's still got it, for sure," Stuart said of Jagr. "He's hard to play against. One of the hardest guys ever to take the puck off." Jagr, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins, said the Czechs were tired during their seventh game at the worlds. "The tournament is long, you have to play a lot of matches in a short period of time with no time to relax," he said.