I am back with the coverage of Day 4 of Ze German Hockey Guys Olympics 2014! Today we have games from groups A and C. The biggest match-up is definitely the US versus Russia – two favorites, an old rivalry. Who will succeed, who will loose? Might there be an unexpected winner in one of the other games? Let’s find out!
Game #11: Slovakia vs. Belarus 4:3 SO
1st Marek Svatos (2 goals)
2nd Denis Denisov (2pts.)
3rd Vyacheslav Sharov (2 assists)
Shots: 22 – 18
Hits: 9 – 13
PIMs: 4:00 – 2:00
PP: 0/1 – 1/2
Handzus opened the game with a big hit which results in an injured Belarusian player. Good PK for Slovakia who could rely on strong goaltending by Halak. Kostitytsn tipped in the first goal of the game, no chance for Halak. Suddenly, two-nothing for Belarus on a point shot as Chara makes a perfect screen – unfortunately on his own goalie. Slovakia with zero shots after the first! Who would’ve thought that? Belarus made it 3:0 in the second as their PP continued to score. Svatos finally put one in for Slovakia as he was wide open in the slot. With his second of the night, Svatos made it a one goal game 9 minutes into the third and with two minutes to go in regulation, Handzus tied it! Nothing really happened in OT, so it was the first SO of the tournament.
Hossa: scores – S. Kostitsyn: save
Gaborik: scores - A. Kostitsyn: scors
Kopecky: save – Grabovski – save
The favorite wins it after trailing 3:0 midway through the game. The comeback by Slovakia might be a huge boost for their team, but trailing 0:3 for a long stretch of the game was definitely not their game plan against a weak Belarus team.
Game #12: United States vs. Russia 1:4
1st Sergei Bobrovsky (GAA 1.00, SV% .952)
2nd Nikolai Kulemin (GWG)
3rd Andrei Markov (2 Assists)
Shots: 21 – 21
Hits: 7 – 10
PIMs: 0:00 – 0:00
A game of two favorites for the gold medal and the first game for a US squad which has a lot of really good players, but need to play as a 5-men-unit instead of relying on their individual skills. There were chances for both teams right from the get-go and a lot of scrums after the whistle. The Russian defense – a question mark for a team which is stacked up front - did a very good job to keep the scoring chances against them low. The young Dallas Star Nichushkin broke the tie late in the first with a backhanded one-timer low in the slot to put the puck past Ryan Miller. Clearly a defensive mistake! The US team with a lot of pressure in the second and some near misses. Russia continued with their strong two-way play, but Miller kept the US in the game. Patrick Kane could have won the game for the US all by himself, but missed the net on three occasions. The US team relied too much on one-man-efforts and after Kulemin made it 2:0 with a 5-hole-shot on Miller the game was over. The Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk showed some of his magic to make it 3:0. The US team pulled their goalie after scoring their lone tally. But Kovalchuk put the biscuit into an empty net to destroy all dreams of a comeback. The Russians played as a team tonight which was the difference maker in this one.
Game #13: Switzerland vs. Czech Republic 3:0
1st Kevin Romy (2Pts., GWG)
2nd Jonas Hiller (GAA 0.00, SV% 1.000)
3rd Mark Streit (2 Pts., 5 shots)
Shots: 20 – 20
Hits: 7 – 13
PIMs: 0:00 – 2:00
PP: 0/1 – 0/0
Can the Czech Republic make it three? No, they could not losing to a Swiss team which played its heart out! A lot of north-south in the beginning with chances for both teams until an early penalty for the Swiss led to an one-sided game in the first. Czech goalie Pavelec held his team in the game while his counterpart Hiller at the other end denied a few quality scoring chances. The Swiss then took the lead after a horrendous defensive breakdown by NHL-veterans Kaberle and Zidlicky. Hemmed in their zone for most parts of the second period, the Czechs gave up another goal while creating no offensive pressure at all until the beginning of the third. Pavelec with a really good performance which could have earned him some star honors. Props to Hiller for his shutout who came up big at the end of the third, when the Czechs finally found some offense.
Game #14 Sweden vs. Latvia 3:0
1st Daniel Sedin (2 Pts.)
2nd Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2 Pts.)
3rd Alexander Steen (GWG)
Shots: 28 – 8
Hits: 11 – 11
PIMs: 0:00 – 4:00
PP: 0/0 – 0/2
Will the underdog succeed? Will the favorite bow out? No and no. It was all Sweden in the beginning stages of this match, but the tale of the missed shot continued today. Finally, late in the first, Alex Steen put one up on the scoreboard. The Swedes controlled the play through the second, but they had to wait until late in the second to put it away after nice deflection by Daniel Sedin. Even though they failed to score on a 4-minute power play, there was never any doubt they would lose this one. Sweden kept the Latvians to only 8 shots through three periods and dominated the game in all aspects. Daniel Sedin had his second straight multi-point game, leading his team into the tournament playoffs.
Here are your groups after day 4 of the preliminary rounds:
1. Russia 4 Pts. 2GP 7G 2GA
2. Slovakia 4Pts. 2 GP 6G 4GA
3. Belarus 1 Pts. 2GP 4G 7GA
4. United States 1 Pts. 2 GP 2G 6GA
1. Canada 4 Pts. 2GP 8G 1GA
2. Finland 2Pts. 2GP 2G 2GA
3. Norway 1Pts. 2GP 0G 4GA
4. Austria 2Pts. 2GP 3G 6GA
1. Czech Republic 4 Pts. 3GP 5G 4GA
2. Sweden 4 Pts. 3GP 9G 1GA
3. Switzerland 4 Pts. 3GP 5G 6GA
4. Latvia 0Pts. 3GP 1G 9GA
Tomorrow I’ll be back with some coverage of the final day of the preliminary as well as a forecast of the upcoming playoff qualifications. And of course stats, leaders, tables. All the good stuff!