After Thursday's 10-1 thrashing by Team Russia, the Danes had a much better game against Latvia, as was expected. The return of Sebastian Dahm to the Danish net helped greatly, as did the fact that there was no comical mismatch beyond the top lines.
Both goalies played well, and the Eller line had a few dangerous chances. At the eight-minute mark, Vitalijs Pavlovs took a tripping penalty on Lars Eller. On the ensuing power play, a shot from Nicklas Jensen went in and out of the net so quickly that play continued until the end of the power play before they reviewed the play and awarded the goal.
The speed of Nikolaj Ehlers was on full display all game, as the NHL line continued to get good chances. Eller and Ehlers combined for five shots in the first period, but even more importantly, the rest of the lineup was also threatening, scoring both of Denmark's regulation goals.
With about three minutes left in the first, Emil Kristensen took a crosschecking penalty, and Latvia tied it up with a quick one from the point by Andris Dzerins
The Latvians took their first lead after Oliver Lauridsen's tripping penalty to start the second, with Kaspars Daugavins putting another power-play tally past Dahm.
At 8:28, Mads Boedker let a laser shot go from the centre of the blue line, and Morten Poulsen tipped the puck in for Denmark's first even-strength goal of the tournament.
Kristensen took a high hit from Aleksejs Sirokovs, who was given five and a game for checking to the head. The Danes were unable to come up with anything during the five-minute power play, though it wasn't for a lack of chances, many of which came from the play of Eller.
After three games of Denmark getting themselves into penalty trouble, it was their opponent who couldn't stay our of the box in the second half of the game, as Zemgus Girgensons put Denmark up five on three for nearly two minutes. There was a slight delay as a line scuffle evolved, and Nicklas Jensen and Maris Bicevskis were sent off for roughing. Ehlers continued to demonstrate his shooting and passing abilities, but the Latvian goalie, Elvis Merzlikins had some truly excellent saves.
Luckily for Denmark, their inability to capitalize on the lengthy five on three did not come back to haunt them. The third period was, in general, fairly quiet, as no goals were scored, and there was only one penalty, a delay of game to Mads Christensen with less than a minute left.
Which is not at all to say that it was boring. Dahm absolutely stonewalled a Latvian odd-man rush before the five-minute mark, and had at least three other big ones before the half way point. Merzlikins had some key saves on his own as Eller, Ehlers, Mads Christensen, and Nicklas Jensen all had their opportunities. Oliver Lauridsen very nearly won the game on a shot through heavy traffic with just over two minutes left, but it went off the crossbar and out of play.
Latvia took a timeout after Mads Christensen went to the box, but Denmark killed off the 36 seconds remaining in regulation, largely thanks to a superhero save by Daniel Nielsen, and a timely clear by Lauridsen. Overtime solved nothing, despite Latvia being on the power play for the opening 1:10.
In the shootout, Dahm out-waited Andrei Dzerins, and Eller answered, going wide and putting the puck under Merzlikins' arm. Miks Indrasis had two fakes and beat Dahm, while Ehlers beat Merzlikins, but put the puck went over the top of the net. Kaspars Daugavins came in way too slow on Dahm, leaving it to Nicklas Jensen, who won the game with a spectacular one-handed backhand shot.
Nicklas Jensen, Eller, and Ehlers led the Danes with six shots each in regulation, and Denmark actually came out on top in shots, with 36 to Latvia's 33. Daniel Nielsen paced all Danes with 25:53 in ice time, followed by Oliver Lauridsen (22:01). Eller led the forwards with 21:34.
Jensen tops the scoring leaderboard for the Danes with four goals and one assist, while Eller is second with four assists.
Latvia plays Kazakhstan later today, while Denmark will face the Czech Republic on Sunday.