It took a while, but Russia finally solved the riddle that was Jan Laco.
The Russians beat Slovakia 1-0 in a shootout on Sunday at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, thanks to successful attempts from Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk. With the win, Russia clinched second place in Group A and will now wait to see of it obtains a bye to the tournament quarterfinals as a top-four seed.
Slovakia gave Russia all it could handle in the final group game, however.
The story of the game was the play of Laco, the 32-year-old netminder who entered this tournament as Slovakia’s No. 3 goalie — behind NHLers Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj — and didn’t even dress for his country’s first two games of the tournament.
Laco stopped all 36 shots faced during regulation and overtime, a dramatic turn for the Slovaks after Halak was torched for eight goals on 48 shots over the first two games while Budaj allowed two on six.
Sunday’s game represented a turning point not just for Slovakian goaltending, but the team on the whole. It managed to secure its first point of the tournament and thereby avoided going into the playoff round as the No. 12 seed (that’ll go to Norway.) Slovakia also showed great resolve in holding the high-powered Russian offense at bay, killing five penalties while keeping the Kovalchuk-Radulov-Pavel Datsyuk line to just five total shots on net.
Speaking of limiting offense, Russia netminder Semyon Varlamov resumed starting duties after sitting out Saturday’s loss to the U.S. and was solid, stopping 27 shots for his first Olympic shutout.
Sometimes, the Nashville Predators were unlucky in November. Sometimes they were just bad.
Either way, they’re likely glad to step into December, and they’ve already gotten a big bounce. Watch how close this near-goal was into crossing the red line before Pekka Rinne barely stopped it with a well-placed goalie stick.
You can also see it up close via this GIF:
Here’s the NHL Situation Room Blog explanation for it remaining a no-goal:
At 13:06 of the first period in the Coyotes/Predators game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play from 11:57. Video review confirmed the call on the ice that the puck did not cross the Nashville goal line. No goal Coyotes.
Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.
The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.
So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.
You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.
Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.
Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.
The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.
This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.
From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as NHL.com notes.
“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”
Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.
At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.
Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?
We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.
Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.
Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks
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Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks
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