Latvia goaltender Edgars Masalskis snags a shot on goal by Switzerland in the second period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Latvia squeezes past Swiss, reaches Olympic quarters for first time


Switzerland stunned Latvia with its last minute game-winning goal in the Olympic opener. The Latvians would not allow history to repeat itself.

For the first time in the nation’s history, Latvia has advanced to the quarterfinals, courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Switzerland. Latvia will play against Canada on Wednesday.

The entire Latvian team is a remarkable story, but special mention has to go to goaltender Edgars Masalskis. When Latvia got off to an early 2-0 lead, the normally defensive-minded Swiss were forced to put the pressure on, but Masalskis was up to the task, turning aside 32 of 33 shots.

Masalskis has been strong all tournament, which is remarkable when you consider that the goaltender has barely played at all this season. The netminder spent parts of the previous five campaigns in the KHL, but he couldn’t secure a contract in Russia for 2013-14, in part due to his injury history.

Lauris Darzins scored the game-winning goal for Latvia and added an insurance marker with a minute left in the third period. Oskars Bartulis accounted for the Latvian’s other goal.

This is Latvia’s first win of the 2014 Olympics, but the team was able to keep things interesting against Sweden and the Czech Republic, in addition to the narrow opening match loss to the Swiss.

For Switzerland, this will mark its worst finish since the 2002 Winter Games, which is particularly disappointing after the Swiss earned a silver medal in the 2013 World Championship. Their defense was superb in this tournament as they only allowed a single goal in the round robin phase, but they were never able to overcome a deficit.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?