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2016 World Championships: Denmark’s medal hopes take a hit vs Switzerland

Tuesday’s start against Switzerland seemed a bit slower than the previous games, but Denmark was able to establish some good zone time courtesy of Lars Eller, Nikolaj Ehlers and Jannik Hansen, while Raphael Diaz looked quite good as well.

Sven Andrighetto had a masterful shift at about the five minute mark, where he was easily the best player on the ice, collecting a number of excellent chances, but Sebastian Dahm was up for the challenge.

Switzerland took the game’s first penalty, a too many men call at 5:31. The Denmark powerplay went to work, and Frederik Storm tipped Daniel Nielsen’s clapper past Reto Berra. Very shortly thereafter, Patrick Bjorkstrand was next to the box for delay of game, but Denmark killed it off comfortably, even getting a pair of strong short handed chances by Storm, who drew a Swiss penalty.

The Danes certainly got the better of the 4 on 4, but the score remained 1-0. Jesper B. Jensen took a goalie interference penalty on a scoring chance, and Andrighetto nearly scored going the other way, but the penalty kill remained solid.

The trend continued, as Nicholas Jensen also took a penalty, putting the Danes down five on three for a few seconds. Switzerland’s powerplay was lethargic at best, and the most dangerous chance came from Andrighetto again.

It looked like the end of the first belonged to Switzerland, as they applied some pressure late, but it would be Denmark who would draw a penalty with a little over two minutes left. Jesper Jensen held off what could have been a shorthanded goal, and the Eller, Ehlers Hansen line came together as Hansen passed to Eller, Eller dished to Ehlers, and Ehlers wired the puck into the top corner.

Not much happened until just past two minutes into the second, as Oliver Lauridsen took exception to Andrighetto’s drive to the net, and both were sent to cool their tempers in the penalty box.

The 4 on 4 definitely looked more like a Danish powerplay, as they got set up in the Swiss zone, and stayed there for a lion’s share of the penalties. Ehlers was next to the box, in the unending stream of penalties.

Fortunately, Dahm was in the zone, and looked very comfortable before Switzerland took a penalty of their own when Simon Moser high sticked Eller. The Eller line nearly had another on the powerplay, but nothing came of it.

All three Jensens (Jesper, Nicklas and Nicholas) had a very good shift, but nothing more of interest occurred until Denmark took yet another penalty. Hansen nearly set up Eller, but as was the theme, nothing came of that either.

Switzerland took another penalty, and the Danish NHL line gave the Swiss far more than they could handle. Julian Walker took a roughing penalty, and the NHL line remained on the ice creating havoc on the five on three, but though they got a number of chances, that was all.

Eller had a series of strong defensive plays that allowed the Danes to keep the puck moving up the ice in Denmark’s possession, but that would be all, as a penalty packed second came to a close with no change in score.

At about the 16 minute mark, Jesper Jensen took a scary hit in the corner from Anders Ambuhl, and was knocked out cold on the ice. He was stretchered off, and it was later unsurprisingly announced that Jensen is out for the rest of the tournament with a concussion – a major blow, as he is Denmark’s best defencemen.

Just shy of the ten minute mark, Yannick Webber lost Ehlers, put the puck through a screen and past Dahm. The Danes had a chance to get the goal back, as Switzerland went short handed for tripping. However, they were unable to get a third power play goal, which would ultimately cost them.

Dahm absolutely robbed Nino Niederreiter around the 15 minute mark, but it would be Niederreiter who got the last laugh, tying up the game with barely over two minutes in the game from Simon Moser and Diaz.

Switzerland nearly got two breakaway goals, but Dahm came up huge, both times. but Switzerland (the veterans of two straight come from behind OT appearances) would take the game on a goal off a face off win.

The Danish penalty kill was a perfect six-for-six, Eller played 25:49 to lead all forwards in ice time, while defenceman Daniel Nielsen took the honours with 27:00. Eller and Ehlers were a great deal of fun to watch together, with Ehlers looking especially impressive, and Sebastian Dahm is likely to play himself into player of the tournament status for Denmark.

Sven Andrighetto and Raphael Diaz both had strong games, often looking like the best players on the ice.

Denmark faces an uphill battle without Jesper Jensen, playing Russia today, Latvia tomorrow, and the Czech Republic on Sunday. Switzerland beat Latvia 5-4 yesterday, and plays Russia on Saturday.