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.
Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp
It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.
Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.
He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.
Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.
The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension
The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.
It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.
Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.