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.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?