Jonas Hiller, Switzerland shut out Czech Republic
Swiss 1-0 victory follows pattern
A little advice if you happen to be playing the Swiss men’s Olympic hockey team: Don’t let them score first.
When they do, they don’t lose.
Switzerland has now played three games at the Sochi Olympic Games and has won two of them by identical 1-0 scores. Their only defeat? A 1-0 loss to Sweden.
Switzerland, coached by Canadian and former junior scoring star with the Ottawa 67’s Sean Simpson, scored at 14:10 of the first period and then held on to shut out the Czech Republic. Each team had 26 shots on goal.
Goaltender Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks recorded the shutout – his second in as many games in the Olympics.
Hiller preserved the victory when he stunned Tomas Plekanec of the Czech Republic on a hard slap shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle with a huge glove save.
He doesn’t mind being the star attraction, but believes it takes more than a hot goalie to win at the Olympics.
“You’ve got to rely on the whole team,” Hiller said. “I think we’re playing very solidly defensively; we don’t give them too much. W barely have any odd-man rushes or anything. That makes life easier as a goaltender and if you make a couple of key saves, sometimes scoring one goal is enough.”
Although the shots were even, the Czechs had more quality scoring chances and Hiller rarely had time to relax. “Those games are really fun to play,” Hiller said. “We played really solid in our own end and everybody was sacrificing, blocking shots, diving for pucks, and that makes it easier as a goalie.”
Hiller ranks seventh in the NHL with 25 victories. He is 15th in goals-against average and 21th in save percentage at .917.
Scratch me, will ya
Swiss forward Simon Bodenmann was a healthy scratch in his team’s second game of the Olympics, but made his presence felt upon being inserted back into the lineup by scoring the only goal of the game on a laser of a wrist shot that beat Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec to the glove side.
Old man take a look at yourself
Superstar and future Hockey Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 42nd birthday Saturday. He becomes the second 42-year-old on the team. Former NHLer Petr Nedved is the other.
Jagr was one of the most dominant players in the game and had plenty of chances to score, none better than 14 minutes into the first period when he drilled a shot from in tight off the post. He had another good opportunity with 14.3 seconds remaining when he circled the net and tried to score on the short side.
The New Jersey Devils right-winger had two shots on goal and played 20:31.
Missing in action
Veteran NHLer Patrik Elias did not dress for the Czech republic. No reason was given for his absence. The New Jersey Devils centre, who had three goals and six points in his previous three trips to the Olympics, had an assist in the Czech s first two games.
NHL veteran defenceman Michal Rozsival of the Chicago Blackhawks did not get a shift in the game. He wasn’t alone. Centre Jiri Novotny, who played 189 NHL games with Buffalo, Washington and Columbus and now plays with Prague Lev in the KHL, also watched from the bench.
Czech Republic defenceman Marek Zidlicky drove hard to the net and as he cut to the front, the right-shooting switched to shooting left and very nearly scored on Hiller.
Hemsky gets away with one
Czech Republic veteran forward Ales Hemsky delivered a shoulder-to-head check to Switzerland’s Julien Vauclair early in the third period drawing blood from the Swiss player’s nose, but he was not penalized.