A rare mistake by Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller led to the winning goal by Zach Parise and the Americans defeated Switzerland 2-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Canada Hockey Place.
The goal came early in the third period on the power play as Parise got a shot on Hiller, who knocked the puck down with his glove but couldn’t hold on to it as it trickled past him. Getting assists on the play were Brian Rafalski and Paul Stastny at the 2:08 mark, 1-0 for America.
Going into the third period the game was tied 0-0 with the U.S. dominating most of the play, as fatigue appeared to be wearing on the Swiss team, who had played an overtime game the day before.
Though there was no score on the board the Swiss were fortunate to catch a break at the end of the second period on a controversial call.
Switzerland narrowly escaped going down a goal in the dying seconds of the second period, as Hiller would make a huge mental error, batting the puck out of the air, back towards the goal, deflecting off of him and into the net as time expired.
The play was reviewed to see if the puck crossed the line before the period was over, after deliberation the referee claimed the puck didn’t cross the red line in time.
Coming into the game all the talk was about the phenomenal play of American net minder, Ryan Miller, in his outstanding showing against Canada. Who they forgot to mention was Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller and his equally impressive play in the tournament.
In the early going, Hiller would show why he’s been so unflappable, turning away all 18 shots he faced. Miller would only have to make four saves despite a multitude of chances by the Swiss who would have shots blocked by defenders.
The U.S. opened the game with an early onslaught of scoring chances, but the Swiss would counter-attack with an odd man rush.
This would be the theme for much of the period with the U.S. being aggressive and the Swiss trying to create on the overly aggressive play of the Americans.
Though this strategy created chances for Switzerland it was giving the U.S. far too many opportunities and the Swiss would be in far more trouble if not for the play of Hiller.
Through one, the game remained scoreless with the Swiss receiving the only power play of the game. The second would be much different as five penalties were handed out.
Despite all the power-play opportunities both teams effectively cleared the puck and didn’t allow the other to establish any positioning in the attacking zone.
When on the power-play both teams seemed disoriented and unable to create any chances as if it were a weakness. When on full strength it was an entirely different game.
The American attack seemed to be even more effective, putting together a number of cross crease passes trying to get a deflection but to no avail.
On the other hand, Switzerland looked tired and an inability to clear the puck deep in American territory at the end of the period almost cost them.
Surviving the second period was all the Swiss could ask for as they looked sluggish heading into the second intermission.
With two periods in the books, the game would remain tied 0-0 with the Americans outshooting Switzerland, 14-to-4 in the period.
Persistence paid off for the U.S. as they were able to finally put one past Hiller to take the advantage.
After the Parise goal the pace appeared to pick up, with a bizarre sequence of events.
First Switzerland had a breakaway chance where the Swiss player got the puck across the goal line from the left side but hit the post without crossing the goal line, though the red light went on. Before a stop in time could come to review the play the U.S. had an apparent goal taken away by a high sticking call on Ryan Kesler with 15:53 remaining.
On the ensuing power play the Swiss created the most opportunities of the game for themselves. They put the pressure on but were turned away as the best saves by the Americans were not being made by Miller but by defenders giving up their bodies.
With time running out the Swiss were forced to pull the goalie and it was a matter of time before the Americans put the game out of reach. Parise would put the nail in the coffin scoring an empty-net goal with 12 seconds remaining.
Heading into the semi-final the Americans looked impressive, completely dominating the puck and creating a huge disparity in shots, 44-to-19. They will await the outcome of the rest of the day’s quart-final games to see who they will play on Friday.