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Switzerland edges Norway in OT

Game 13, Group A: Switzerland 5, Norway 4 (OT)

Saturday, 02.20.2010 / 7:52 AM ET / News
By Bob Condor
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Switzerland edges Norway in OT
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-- OK, people … enough looking past Saturday's Olympic hockey action in favor of anticipation of the three-game rivalry feast planned for Sunday.

Saturday's opener, a Switzerland 5-4 overtime win against Norway, featured a storybook hat trick, a Hobbit Wizard and a carpenter who outplayed an NHL star.
Some days just start out too perfect to believe. Norway's Tore Vikingstad had to still be pinching himself after scoring a hat trick to fuel Norway forcing overtime against the favored Swiss. Vikingstad was certainly smiling post-game about the puck bouncing his way against Switzerland and Anaheim Ducks star goaltender Jonas Hiller.
"I had a good feeling coming into this game," said Vikingstad, 34, who looks the part of a old-time hockey player, complete with a cheek scar on his rugged handsome face. "Our team knew the Swiss game would be our best chance to win. It took us a couple games to get used to the tempo [against USA and Canada], but everyone was ready today. It is clearly special to get a hat trick in the Olympics [his first for the national team].”
Vikingstad's — you've got to love that name — goals tied up the game at 1-1, 3-3 and 4-4. His third goal was NHL caliber, a spinning move and deft shot from the slot that beat a clearly dismayed Hiller, who played two stellar games against Team USA and Team Canada earlier in the Olympic week.
"We had a miscommunication on the fourth goal [the Vikingstad hat trick]," said Hiller. "Our defensemen were losing their men quite often in our end."
Before the game, Vikingstad's wife was interviewed on the arena video-board and his two young children could be spotted with a "Go, Dad!" banner throughout the game. Vikingstad's brother's and sister's families, nine in all, were on hand to see 16 hats rain down after Vikingstad's hat-trick goal forced overtime.
But the dream day burst in overtime when Switzerland's Romano Lemm scored 2:28 into the extra segment. The Swiss filled an unfamiliar role: favorite.
"The first two games we played really well [against the USA and Canada]," said Mark Streit, Swiss captain and New York Islanders star defenseman. "In this game we kind of struggled as favorites. We had a hard time with the role. It seemed like we were nervous and we took too many penalties [five minors in the first 30 minutes]."
Streit conceded a team letdown was inevitable.
"The Canada [shootout] game was so intense," said Streit. "We were on such a high. Pretty all of the guys on this team had never played in a game like that."
Not that Saturday's Scandinavian rival match lacked intensity or thrills. Both teams now await which country they will face in the qualifying round of games on Tuesday.
The game's first 63 seconds rewarded the near-full house (only some low corner seats were empty at puck drop). After a couple of audible Swiss hits, Norway defenseman Jonas Holos made a desperately agile kick-save because goalie Pal "The Wall" Grotnes was in traffic outside the crease. Holos perhaps got a bit carried away about his legwork because he proceeded to cover the saved but loose puck with his hand.
Switzerland was awarded a penalty shot, which was assigned to Hnat Domenichelli by Norway coach Ralph Krueger. Domenichelli's deke didn’t persuade Grotnes, who smothered a stuff-in attempt.
On the ensuing faceoff, Norway's Raffaele Sannitz won a clean draw. His swipe went straight to Domenichelli, who drove the net and sent a perfect feed to Julien Sprunger. A backhander beat Grotnes and wiped out the penalty-shot glory.
Vikingstad knotted it at one-all 12 minutes into the game. It appeared Vikingstad was going for the roof but quasi-fanned on the shot. Hiller was thinking high, too, and the puck snuck under his lifting left pad.
"I think he missed on the shot and I tried to stretch for it," said Hiller.
Norway took a 2-1 in the second period on the only Norway goal not scored by Vikingstad. Defenseman Mads Hansen hammered that one home. It was Norway's first lead in an Olympics game since Feb. 24, 1994 -- which was also the last time Norway won at the Olympics -- a 3-1 home-side win over Austria played in Lillehammer.
If Vikingstad was the game's No. 1 star, then No. 2 goes to Grotnes, who made some crucial and big-time stops in each period, most especially a glove save with 31 ticks left in regulation.  Grotnes, a carpenter in his day job who literally will put up walls in houses at some job sites, kept the game close while waiting for Vikingstad to perform his next magic trick.
Vikingstad, 34, has some experience at this hero thing. He scored the winning goal in Norway's 5-4 victory over Canada at the 2000 World Championships.  He was named Norway's player of the year in 2005-06 and was a sixth-round draft of the St. Louis Blues in 1999.
Vikingstad almost won it early in overtime with a close-in shot that Hiller gloved just in time, after a pretty feed in the slot from Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, who is known as the Norwegian Hobbit Wizard and played like it the whole game.
Zuccarello-Aasen (yes, his grandfather's Italian) is hard to miss when Norway plays. His best play was on Vikingstad's middle goal. The 5-foot-7 dynamo water-bugged along the goal line to Hiller's left before threading a no-look to Vikingstad from behind the net. It appeared Hiller never saw the puck passed or shot; it was that quick.
"That goal was good play and good shot," said Hiller, who noted that Norway's second goal was a screen shot and the final score "a miscommunication" among defenseman about coverage.
For his part, Hiller was philosophical about not playing his best after two stand-on-his-head stellar outings versus Teams Canada and USA. He didn't think an off-game here at the Winter Games would affect his Anaheim Ducks' stretch run for the playoffs. The NHL team will be two points out of playoffs contention when it returns to the regular season March 2.
"In the end it will be a new season," said Hiller. "I will try to keep the positives from these games and get a good feeling from the next game."


NOR 1 2 1 0 - 4
SUI 1 2 1 1 - 5

First Period Scoring: 1. SUI, J. Sprunger (H. Domenichelli, R. Sannitz) 1:03; 2. NOR, T. Vikingstad (P. Thoresen, T. Jakobsen) 12:21.

First Period Penalties: Penalty Shot NOR J. Holos (player falling on puck in crease) 0:58 taken by H. Domenichelli (miss), T.Paterlini SUI (high-sticking, double minor) 2:42, R. Diaz SUI (hooking) 4:54.

Second Period Scoring: 3. NOR, M. Hansen (P. Thoresen) 5:24 PPG; 4. SUI, R. Wick (M. Seger, M. Pluss) 9:15; 5. SUI, R. Sannitz (M. Seger, R. Wick) 15:42; 6. NOR, T. Vikingstad (M. Zuccharello-Aasen, M. Olimb) 18:46.

Second Period Penalties: R. Diaz SUI (interference) 3:47, J. Sprunger SUI (hooking) 5:55, J. Holos NOR (slashing) 10:49.

Third Period Scoring: 7. SUI, S. Blindenbacher (R. Wick, M. Streit) 9:56 PPG; 8. NOR, T. Vikingstad (P. Thoresen) 12:18.

Third Period Penalties: 
Bench NOR (too many men on ice, served by M. Zuccarello-Aasen) 8:04.

Overtime Scoring: 9. SUI, R. Lemm (S. Jeannin) 2:28.

Overtime Penalties: None.

NOR  4  8  9  2 - 23
SUI  13 11 12 2 - 38

Goaltenders (goals-shots against): NOR: Grotnes (L, 5-38); SUI: Hiller (W, 4-23).

Power plays
(goals-chances): NOR: 1-5 SUI: 1-2.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80