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Switzerland meets Latvia in rematch from group play

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 10:16 AM ET / News
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Switzerland meets Latvia in rematch from group play
Switzerland meets Latvia in rematch from group play

LATVIA vs. SWITZERLAND

When: Tuesday, Noon ET (MSNBC)

Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome

What's at stake: This is a rematch of each country's opening game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, only this time everything is on the line. Latvia was poised to pull an upset against Switzerland on Wednesday, but Swiss forward Simon Moser scored off the skate of Latvia defenseman Georgijs Pujacs with 7.9 seconds left in regulation for a 1-0 win.

Latvia: Group play failed to produce the upset Latvia was looking for, but this is one final chance to make some noise and avenge a heartbreaking loss in a game where Edgars Masalskis stopped the first 38 shots he faced. The following two games against the Czech Republic resulted in two-goal defeats in which the offense came around but the team gave up nine goals.

Among the questions for Latvia in this game is whether coach Ted Nolan of the Buffalo Sabres will go back to Masalskis after giving Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Kristers Gudlevskis the start Saturday in a 5-3 loss to Sweden. A goal by Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons pulled Latvia to within one early in the third but former NHL player Martins Karsums was denied on a breakaway with a chance to tie the score and Gudlevskis gave up the fifth goal moments later.

"This was my first Olympics and I kind of felt that we would be overpowered," forward Janus Sprukts, who scored a power-play goal Saturday, told the IIHF website. "But now I think we can play with any team. We are very happy we've played evenly with all our opponents and will be looking ahead confidently."

Switzerland: Defense and goaltending have the Swiss poised to build off their silver-medal performance at the 2013 World Championship, but more offense will be needed if they expect to end this tournament with bronze or anything better around their necks.

Switzerland played nothing but 1-0 games in Group C competition, winning the rubber match Saturday on the strength of a Simon Bodenmann goal and 26 saves from Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. Moser has the only other goal the Swiss have scored in Sochi, while Hiller hasn't allowed a goal in two starts. Calgary Flames goalie Reto Berra was nearly flawless in a loss to Sweden.

One thing is for certain -- whether Switzerland took Latvia lightly in their initial game, that isn't going to happen Tuesday in a win-or-go-home situation. The Swiss understand that an unfortunate bounce in the other direction last Wednesday could have changed the entire course of their tournament.

"The gap is closing," Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter told the IIHF website. "There are no easy games out there anymore."

What's next: The winner advances to face Canada, the defending Olympic champion, in action Wednesday. Switzerland beat Canada 2-0 in the 2006 Torino Games, then put a scare into them during group play at the 2010 Vancouver Games before losing 3-2 in a shootout.

Brian Hunter

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 70 16 25 -3 41
M. Cammalleri 63 27 13 3 40
P. Elias 64 11 21 -16 32
S. Gomez 53 7 24 -8 31
S. Bernier 62 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 69 11 12 -4 23
A. Larsson 59 3 20 3 23
A. Greene 77 3 18 2 21
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 57 6 12 -3 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 28 9 .927 2.20
K. Kinkaid 5 5 3 .918 2.47