It took the Swiss 59 minutes and nearly 53 seconds to score the only goal of their 1-0 win versus Latvia on Wednesday. That may have to tide them over for a while.
Ottawa’s-er-Detroit’s…uh, Sweden’s (there we go) Daniel Alfredsson was the first to break through a bitter goaltender’s duel between Henrik Lundqvist and Swiss netminder Reto Betta, scoring on a loose puck sitting in the blue paint mid-way through the third period. As it turns out, that was all that was needed as the Jonas Brodin-less Swedes beat Nino Niederreiter’s Switzerland 1-0. Sweden would outshoot the Swiss 31-26, but it wasn’t always in their favor.
The Swiss came out to start the game with a vengeance, outshooting the Swedes 13-5 in a very busy first period for Lundqvist and the defense in front of him. However, Sweden’s depth, talent and NHL experience–even without Henrik Sedin and captain Henrik Zetterberg, who has officially been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with an injury–allowed the team to bounce back. A series of missed calls against Sweden, including too many men on the ice, went unnoticed by the officials–but not by Switzerland–lending more frustration to a team that just couldn’t solve King Henrik. Niederreiter would log 18:33 of ice-time in the game, registering two shots on net.
As such, Sweden now leads Group C with two wins and six points (three points per regulation win). Niederreiter and Switzerland will play the legendary Jaromir Jagr and the Czech Republic, who beat Latvia 4-2 earlier this morning, on Saturday for Group C’s second place tie breaker.
In other Olympic hockey news, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Team USA defeated Slovakia 7-1 yesterday. Neither player would register a point, and Suter would become the unfortunate victim of a missed off-sides call by the official as Suter cleared the puck before it bounced off the opposing Slovak forward and back into the offensive zone. That would lead to Slovakia’s only goal of the game–a no-goal, really. Going into tomorrow’s game with the hometown Russians, it appears USA head coach Dan Bylsma has switched up his lines a bit, giving Parise a more favorable-looking line with Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler and Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane. Yeah, they might be alright.
Up next on today’s schedule of games, it’s Canada versus the Austrians and Mikael Granlund’s Finland versus Norway. Norway gave Canadians everywhere a close scare yesterday, giving the Red and White very little respect and making in a close 3-1 win for the defending gold medal winners in their first game of the tournament. Granny and the Finns (if that isn’t a ’50s cover band name already, I call dibs) are set to drop the puck against Norway on MSNBC at 11:00 AM Central Time. The Canadians and Thomas Vanek’s Austria can be watched at the same time on USA. Granlund leads all Minnesota Wild skaters participating in the tournament with two goals and an assist for three points, six shots and a plus-2 rating. Not bad for his Olympic debut.