Swiss leave it late
Swiss leave it late
Blum bombshell shatters Denmark
Looking for a late goal? Look for Raphael Diaz. The Swiss defenceman assisted on his team's last-gasp equalizer to salvage a point against Norway and the New York Ranger repeated the trick as his team once again wiped out a two-goal deficit in the third to force its third successive bout of overtime.
This time Nino Niederreitter got the vital touch on a Diaz play to beat Denmark's Sebastian Dahm - just - and tie the scores at 2-2 with two minutes to play.
Dahm then had to be alert in the extras to win a duel with Denis Hollenstein after another Diaz pass split the Danish defence. But the goalie had no answer in the 65th minute as Switzerland completed its revival with a one-timer from Eric Blum at the top of the face-off circle to claim a 3-2 victory.
That snapped a run of seven defeats in World Championship games that went to overtime or a shoot-out but Niederreitter warned that the Swiss have to start games strongly rather than trying to fight back. "Good for us that we didn't give up, but we have to start games better," he said. "We can't keep coming back like this."
For Denmark, meanwhile, the consequences of a third-period slump may prove even more painful than the failure to record a first ever World Championship victory over the Swiss. Influential defenceman Jesper B Jensen was stretchered off with what looked to be a head injury and taken to hospital for further checks. The defenceman fell awkwardly following a hit from Andres Ambuhl. The officials did not call a penalty and Ambuhl, contrite over injuring a fellow player, said after the game that he felt it was a clean hit.
The Swiss captain also acknowledged that his team could not keep relying on overtime to get its points.
"I guess in the next couple of games we should make sure we only play 60 minutes," he said. "Going into this game we were only interested in getting three points. But we were 2-0 back and we battled and won the game so that's a real positive. We have to keep on going."
At that point the Danes led 2-0 and seemed to have the measure of the Swiss attack - but when Yannick Weber scored in the 50th minute the game was transformed. The defenceman moved up from the point to take Simon Moser's pass and squeeze a wrister inside the near post from the edge of the circle. Niederreiter supplied the screen and Denmark began to doubt.
"Every team in this group can hurt you," Weber said. "To get out of the group we need our best players to be better than their best players on the day, and I think we did that tonight."
Denmark's goalie Dahm pulled off some smart stops as Switzerland began to tighten the screws, but could not hold out until the hooter.
"In the end they got a puck on the net and it bounced off a stick or a skate and went in," he lamented. "It's tough for us - we deserved better than one point - but at this stage we'll take everything we can get in this group and try to build on it."
That was harsh on the Graz 99ers goalie, who seemed poised to backstop his team to another good win after two power play goals in the first period put Denmark into a strong position.
Switzerland’s stuttering start to the IIHF World Championship prompted head coach Patrick Fischer to make changes with Reto Schappi replacing Gaetan Haas and Samuel Walser promoted to the top line after scoring twice in the first two games of the tournament.
But a combination of whistle-happy officials and a visibly nervous defence left the Swiss struggling once again early on.
Frederik Storm opened the scoring, getting the key deflection on Daniel Nielsen’s slap shot to beat Reto Berra in the Swiss net after seven minutes.
After Denmark took the lead, a game that offered little fluent play from the outset got bogged down in a series of niggly penalties, robbing the Swiss offence of its composure for long periods. Not even a double power play midway through the stanza managed to seriously inconvenience the Danes.
But there was no doubting the composure of Nikolaj Ehlers as the youngster doubled the Danish lead a minute before the intermission. Slick stick-handling wrongfooted Raphael Diaz and opened up a lane for a wrist shot to zing inside the angle of post and bar.
The middle session was dominated by yet more penalty calls: the teams shared seven minor infractions, making it hard to find much fluency. What bright spots did emerge tended to involve Ehlers as the 20-year-old Winnipeg Jet began to orchestrate more of the play on Denmark’s top line but not even he could find the killer third goal on an extended 5-on-3 power play.
That injury to Jensen disrupted the start of the third stanza and despite a chance for Lars Eller almost immediately after play resumed, Switzerland began to get the upper hand on its way to forcing overtime for the third game running.
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