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Slovakia does its part, rips Latvia

Game 14, Group B: Slovakia 6, Latvia 0

Saturday, 02.20.2010 / 11:55 PM ET / News
By Bob Condor
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Slovakia does its part, rips Latvia
VANCOUVER -- Slovakia did its part Saturday night to make Rivalry Sunday relevant for its hockey team, dissecting Latvia 6-0. 
 
Slovakia, sort of the seventh team on the outside looking in at the so-called Big Six of this Olympic tournament, will now actually root for its own archrival, the Czech Republic, to beat Russia. Such a victory would earn second place for the Slovaks and, presumably, land them an easier qualifying game on Tuesday. Russia and the Czechs play the early game Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN), so at least Slovakia won’t have to wait on the result.
 
"It's good for us to fly under the radar," Slovakia and Chicago Blackhawks star Marian Hossa told NHL.com in a one-on-one interview after the game. "Tonight we made it look easy. Latvia is a good team, but they played last night. Our plan was get a jump on them early."
 
Good plan. Lubomir Visnovsky, Richard Zednik and Jozef Stumpel clipped off first-period goals as the Slovaks outshot the Latvians 13 to 5. Latvia goalie Edgars Masalskis didn’t stand a chance on any of the three goals.
 
Hossa was impressed with former NHLer Zednik and his checking linemates, Michal Handzus of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Lubos Bartecko, who plays for Farjestad Karlstad of the Swedish Elite League.
 
"They are playing with a lot of energy," Hossa said. "They shut Russia's No. 1 line and tonight they scored too."
 
For his part, Hossa appreciates his time on a line with brother Marcel, who plays professionally for Dinamo Riga, a Latvia-based club in the KHL.
 
"I am enjoying every minute of it," Hossa said. "We don't get too many opportunities to play together."
 
The Hossa brothers do make a phone appointment without fail once a week, and right now the togetherness of the entire Slovak team makes it dangerous for any Olympic foe.
 
"We have some older players on this team," Hossa said. "I think that is good for this team and this Olympics."
 
Make no mistake about Saturday’s win. It was surgical, as the Slovaks came out flying with hard, accurate shots. Both Zednik and Stumpel rocketed roof shots just inside the crossbar to beat Masalskis.
 
The precision shooting and scoring continued in the second period. Hossa scored the fourth Slovakia goal on a power play, finishing a perfect pass from Stumpel. Handzus, who came into the Winter Games on one of the NHL’s hottest scoring streaks, notched the fifth goal unassisted.
 
Defenseman Ivan Baranka was credited with the sixth goal late in the game, and goalie Jaroslav Halak looked sharp. Halak has benefited from starting eight of the last nine games for his Montreal Canadiens club, effectively reversing roles with former No. 1 goalie Carey Price. That regular work appears to have sharpened Halak’s game, and it might be no small thing in the medal round.
 
Say this: There’s not a team in the Big Six that wants to see this team in Tuesday’s qualifying round or the quarterfinals.


GAME SUMMARY

SCORING
LAT 0 0 0 - 0
SVK 3 2 1 - 6

First Period Scoring: 1. SVK, Visnovsky (Stumpel, Zednik) 2:44 (PPG); 2. SVK, Zednik (Handzus, Bartecko) 9:11; 3. SVK, Stumpel (Palffy) 17:08.

First Period Penalties: M. Redlihs LAT (high sticking) 2:10, K. Redlihs LAT (hooking) 20:00.

Second Period Scoring: 4. SVK, Marian Hossa (Stumpel) 1:07 (PPG); 5. SVK, Handzus (Unassisted) 2:20.
 
Second Period Penalties: Ankipans LAT (tripping) 6:28, Palffy (hooking) SVK 15:02, Demitra (holding) 19:19. 

Third Period Scoring: 6. SVK, Baranka (Handzus, Strbak) 17:20.

Third Period Penalties:
Palffy SVK (hooking) 8:06, Palffy SVK (interference) 11:23.

SHOTS ON GOAL
LAT  5  10  6 - 21
SVK  13 15  9 - 37

Goaltenders (goals-shots against): LAT: Masalskis (L, 5-37); SVK: Halak (W, 0-21).

Power plays
(goals-chances): LAT: 0-4; SVK: 2-3.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89