Hello again from simulated Sochi (not really, still in Germany)! After some exciting action in the quarter finals including a few surprises, we are back with more coverage. This time, it’s the semi-finals – and oh boy, those games were really good. Fasten your seatbelts everybody, here we go!
Game #27: United States vs Russia 3:0
PIMs 2:00 – 0:00
PP 0/0 – 0/1
1st Ryan Kesler (1G, 0A, 0 Hits, 2S, +2) United States
2nd Ryan Suter (0G, 2A, 0 Hits, 0S, +2) United States
3rd Zach Parise (1G, 0A, 1 Hit, 6S, +2) United States
After demolishing Canada in an unexpected blowout win in the quarter finals, the US team faced another big challenge: Russia was their next opponent. Would this game decide the gold medal winner already? Some people sure thought so.
The Americans did not waste any time against the host of the games. After winning the opening faceoff, Ryan Kesler beat Russian netminder Sergei Bobrovsky cleanly with a slap shot from the blue line to make it 1-0 not even two minutes into the contest. The game was a competitive one, and the Russians had a big chance of getting back even when Zach Parise slashed Ilya Kovalchuk and went to the box for two minutes.Russia sure tried everything to score but eventually could not capitalize on numerous great scoring chances. Even back at even strength, the Russians had more possession but could not break through the superb US defense.
The American defensemen did their best to not let Russia get a shot at Ryan Miller after the first intermission and largely succeeded. However, it proved not to be an eventful period, David Backes’s wrap-around chance standing out the most. He was stopped by Bobrovsky.
Heading into the third frame, the US struck quickly again: Patrick Kane’s shot from point blank was saved by Bobrovsky, but Zach Parise was there to bury the rebound for the two-goal lead. That got their momentum going, proved by the many good chances the USA produced after that. Zach Parise appeared to be all over the ice, showing some smooth offensive zone moves, creating lots of opportunities. However, it was Max Pacioretty that turned around right in front of the net and put the final nail in the coffin of the Russian’s gold medal dreams. They could not get going due to the impressive effort of the US defense, which eventually proved to be the difference maker.
A great win for the US squad that leads them to the gold medal game. Its opponent would be determined by the second game of the night:
Game #28: Switzerland vs Sweden 1:4
PIMs 0:00 – 0:00
PP 0/0 – 0/0
1st Alexander Steen (2G, 1A, 0 Hits, 3S, +2)
2nd Erik Karlsson (1G, 1A, 1 Hit, 1S, +2)
3rd Henrik Lundqvist (1.00 GAA, .955 SV%)
The Swiss definitely turned some heads when they defeated the Czech Republic to advance to the semi-finals. They continued just where they left off in the first period, outplaying the Swedes by a lot. A strong offensive performance led to many scoring chances, but Sweden’s goaltender Henrik Lundqvist showed why he is nicknamed “King Henrik”: Not even shots that were deflected right in front of his crease could sneak by him as he did not crumble under the big-time pressure Switzerlands skaters put on him. Especially Andres Ambühl seemed to be omni-present, making plays from any position.
Then came the first intermission – and whatever it was that was said in the Swedish locker room, it sure hit the spot: Tre Kronor looked like a completely different team once the puck was dropped for the second period. Not even three minutes in, Niklas Krönwall unleashed an absolute laser but was denied by Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller who flashed his glove. It seemed like it was just a matter of time though with the Swedes having a good set-up in the offensive zone, making precise passes and putting the pedal to the metal. It paid off: Erik Karlsson blasted the puck past Hiller from the point to light the first lamp of the game. Switzerland did not giving up, and even after Roman Josi had to leave the game with an injury after he got hit by Daniel Alfredsson, the Swiss kept on working hard. Lundqvist had to make a few more good saves before that period’s end to maintain the lead.
When play resumed after the second intermission, the Swiss put on some more pressure but were unable to beat Lundqvist – instead, the Swedes scored on a counter rush. Alexander Steen got his first goal of the evening after assisting on the first one already, tapping in the rebound of Daniel Sedin’s wrist shot on Hiller. The Swiss still refused to call it quits, and Damien Brunner got them back within one when he deflected a Raphael Diaz wrist shot past Lundqvist. Just over a minute later, Nicklas Bäckström restored the two-goal lead putting another rebound into the back of the net. Still not giving up on the game, Switzerland pulled Hiller in the last minute of play, but Alexander Steen got his second goal of the night on an empty-netter five seconds from the final buzzer.
The score may not indicate it, but the Swedes are lucky to move on to the finals and sure have to buy Lundqvist dinner after this one. The US will not be any easier to play, especially since they got red hot just in time as it appears.
This leaves us with just one more day, and there will be medals! Join us again tomorrow to find out who takes it all – it is certainly going to be an interesting two games. Here is what is left:
Bronze Medal Game
Switzerland vs Russia
Gold Medal Game
United States vs Sweden