Olympic Hockey Roundup: Latvia Upsets Switzerland; Czechs Hold Off Slovakia

latvia switzerlandFour teams got the ax Tuesday as the 2014 Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament began its knockout stage.

Russia, Slovenia, Latvia and the Czech Republic are headed through to the quarterfinals. Let’s take a look at how it all happened.

Russia 4, Norway 0

In a game that was not as lopsided as the score suggests, the host nation dispatched the lowest seed in the tournament to set up a quarterfinal date with Finland. Norway held the Russians scoreless for the first 24 minutes before Alexander Radulov — the goat in Russia’s shootout loss to the U.S. over the weekend — beat goalie Lars Haugen for the first goal of the game. Ilya Kovalchuk made it 2-0 later in the second period, and Russia added two garbage goals (including an empty-netter by Radulov) in the final minutes of regulation. Pavel Datsyuk finished with three assists, and Sergei Bobrovsky was superb again in net, making 22 saves in his second straight shutout.

Slovenia 4, Austria 0

This one was much less stressful for the victor, as Slovenia built a 2-0 lead after one period and never looked back. Anze Kopitar came back strong after having to leave his team’s loss to the United States on Sunday due to illness. The Los Angeles Kings star — and Slovenia’s lone NHL player — scored the first goal of the game and was on the ice for another as the Slovenia booked its first trip to the quarterfinals. Robert Kristan was also strong in net for the Slovenes, posting a shutout with 30 saves. Slovenia now faces its greatest test of the tournament, as top-seeded Sweden awaits on Wednesday.

Latvia 3, Switzerland 1

This was the largest upset of the day by far. Switzerland was the most dominant defensive team in the tournament in the preliminary round, with goaltender Jonas Hiller turning away 47 shots without allowing a goal. Hiller was solid again Tuesday, allowing two first-period goals but nothing else, but the anemic offense in front of him could not help him out. Oskars Bartulis scored the first goal, and Lauris Darzins added another three minutes later plus an empty-netter to lead the Latvians to their first Olympic win since 2002 and their first-ever trip to the quarterfinals.

Czech Republic 5, Slovakia 3

What appeared to be an easy win for the Czechs got tense in a hurry, as Marian Hossa (two goals) led winless Slovakia on a furious comeback to cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-3 with 11 minutes to play in the third. That’s as close as the Slovaks would get, though, as Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec buckled down late and Tomas Plekanec added an empty-netter in the final minute. Boston Bruins center David Krejci scored his first goal of the tournament on a power play late in the first and assisted on Plekanec’s empty-netter. Former Bruins Jaromir Jagr (one assist) and Tomas Kaberle (two assists) also factored into the scoring.

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Wednesday schedule

No. 1 Sweden vs. No. 8 Slovenia (3 a.m. ET)

No. 2 United States vs. No. 7 Czech Republic (noon ET)

No. 3 Canada vs. No. 11 Latvia (noon ET)

No. 4 Finland vs. No. 5 Russia (7:30 a.m. ET)

Photo via Twitter/@NHLPA

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