The easy part of the Olympic hockey tournament has passed and Tuesday saw the beginning of the "win or go home" games. The host country surprisingly found themselves playing a game in the 1st stage of the knockout rounds following its shootout loss to the United States. How did Russia fare in a game they had no intention of being in? Did the Slovenians continue to write another chapter in their amazing underdog story? Can anybody score a goal on Jonas Hiller? And how much vitriol would be on display in the border battle between the Czech Republic and Slovakia?
Austria vs. Slovenia
SLO: Anze Kopitar (PPG), Jan Urbas (SHG), Sabahudin Kovacevic, Jan Mursak
The cinderella story of the men's Olympic tourney continues on as the Slovenians add another victory to their total with their elimination of the Austrians. Coming into these games, the Slovenians were the lowest ranked squad of 12 in the field and not expected to be much of a threat at all, especially since the have only one NHL player on their roster, Anze Kopitar. After earning their first ever Olympic victory against Slovakia on Saturday, they are now moving onto the quarterfinals and will face the top seed Sweden tomorrow morning. Robert Kirstan stopped all 30 shots he faced and Kopitar continues to shine as perhaps the breakout star of the tournament with his power play goal that turned out to be the game winner.
Norway vs. Russia
RUS: Alexander Radulov (2), Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Tereshenko
The Russians didn't expect to be playing in the qualification round. They certainly didn't expect to be nervous about even beating the Norwegians in said round, but after a scoreless 1st period the fear was rising. Then the Russians caught a break early in the second. Alexander Radulov circled behind the Norway net and threw a shot on goal that ricocheted off a Norwegian defender and into the net 4:12 into the second. Kovalchuk would add a late 2nd period goal and then Russia got two goals in the final two minutes of the third to make the final 4-0. Radulov had two goals and an assist, Pavel Datsyuk had three assists and former Coyote Viktor Tikhonov added an assist in his first action of the games. Sergei Bobrovsky got the shutout. Russia will move on to face Finland.
Latvia vs. Switzerland
LAT: Oskars Bartulis, Lauris Darzins (2, 1 PPG)
SUI: Martin Pluss
Jonas Hiller hadn't allowed a goal in two games during the preliminary portion of the tournament and seemed to be the biggest x-factor in the remaining games. Would his stinginess be enough to hold off the high powered ability of Team Canada? Unfortunately for hockey fans, we'll never know the answer to that question as the Latvians found enough cracks in Hiller in the first period to eliminate the Swiss. Edgars Masalskis was the better backstop on the day as he stopped 32 of 33 Swiss shots and Lauris Darvins' powerplay tally at 11:19 of the first period would hold up as the game winner. The Latvians will continue on to challenge the Canadians on Wednesday.
Slovakia vs. Czech Republic
SVK: Marian Hossa (2), Tomas Surovy
CZE: Ales Hemsky (PPG), Roman Cervenka (2), David Krejci (PPG), Tomas Plekanec (PPG)
In perhaps the most anticipated matchup of the qualification round, bitter rivals Slovakia and the Czech Republic met in a matchup that did not disappoint. The Czechs got off to a fast start, scoring three goals in the first period and eventually building a 4-0 lead on a beautiful breakaway goal from Roman Cervenka, his second of the game. But the Slovaks would fight back, led by Marian Hossa who was all over the ice in the final 30 minutes. He got the Slovaks back in the game getting two big goals. Then, Cervenka went from hero to almost goat as he got caught making a lazy change that led to the Slovaks third goal, a blistering one-timer from Surovy. The Slovaks and Czechs would exchange opportunities over the final ten minutes with Slovakia pushing for the equalizer. Then Coyote forward Martin Hanzal would draw a slashing penalty in the final minute that led to a Czech powerplay and the empty netter that sealed the deal. For their efforts today, an older Czech team has a fast turnaround in facing the United States tomorrow in the final quaterfinal match.
Germany vs. Japan
GER: Susann Gotz (PPG), Julia Zorn (PPG), Sara Seiler
JPN: Hanae Kubo, Haruna Yoneyama
Finland vs. Russia
FIN: Linda Valimaki, Riikka Valila, Michelle Karvinen (2, 1 PPG)
In two women's classification games, the Germans got two goals in the second period including the game winner from Sara Seiler to beat Japan 3-2 and Finland received solid goaltending from Noora Raty in shuting out the Russians 4-0 to end their Olympics on a high note.
Here is the schedule for tomorrow's men's quarterfinal games.
|Slovenia vs. Sweden||1 a.m.||NBCSN|
|Russia vs. Finland||5:30 a.m.||NBCSN|
|Latvia vs. Canada||10 a.m.||MSNBC|
|Czech Republic vs. United States||10 a.m.||NBCSN|