BUFFALO – The Americans earned a ticket directly to the semi-finals on January 3 as a result of their 2-1 defeat of Switzerland tonight at HSBC Arena. This sets up quarter-finals clashes between Canada and Switzerland and Finland and Russia. The winner of the Canada-Switzerland game will face the United States while Sweden will take on the Finland-Russia winner.
"We exepcted a tough game from them," said Charlie Coyle. "We battled through it which was a good thing for us."
Inti Pestoni got the game’s first goal on a harmless-looking play. The left-hand shot brought the puck in over the American blue line on his off wing, on a two-on-two, and as soon as one defenceman slid to try to block a pass, Pestoni nailed a wrist shot to the far side of Jack Campbell’s net at 7:01.
Playing patiently, the Americans got the equalizer a short time later on the power play. Coyle got the puck behind the Swiss net and passed it out front on the short side to Chris Kreider who drilled it home. It was exactly how Slovakia scored two goals on Benjamin Conz yesterday, but from the other side.
Said Coyle of the deceptive pass: "I picked up the puck behind the net and was going to go around. I saw Chris out of the corner of my eye, so I threw it out there and he put it home."
The Americans had an excellent chance to go ahead when they had a lengthy five-on-three later in the period, but it was the Swiss that had the best scoring chance, a two-on-one. The lacklustre period ended in a 1-1 tie.
Teams swapped scoring chances midway through the period. Conz stopped Brock Nelson cold on a breakaway, and then the Swiss thought they tied the game when a long shot bounced off Campbell’s pad and on the goal line. Video review couldn’t show the puck had crossed the line, so no goal was awarded.
Conz again showed his vulnerability when the puck is behind his own net. Mitch Callahan made a quick wraparound and the puck snuck in at 13:53 to give the U.S. a lead it didn’t fully deserve at this point. The Swiss were supporting each other well and produced a stifling checking game that the Americans found impenetrable, but they remained patient throughout.
The Swiss surprised their opponents by coming out in the third period with offence on the brain, determined to tie the game. They came closest when Sven Bärtschi rattled a low shot off the post to the near side of Campbell, but the puck stayed out. Still, the Swiss determination was impressive, but the U.S. was simply too strong to concede the tying goal.
Said U.S. coach Keith Allain: "Today I sensed some tired guys among my line-up, so the extra day off comes at a good moment."