In previous years, the matchup between Switzerland and Denmark represented Denmark’s best hope to gain a victory and avoid relegation. This year, Denmark is flying high, having lost to Sweden, beaten Finland in regulation, and defeated the Czech Republic in overtime, and is well clear of the relegation round. Switzerland also lost to Sweden, and then gained an OT win, also against the Czech Republic.
If Denmark wins, they secure second in Group A, and face a much easier path in the quarter-finals. If Switzerland wins, both teams make it through, and Finland goes from gold to the relegation round in the span of a year.
Switzerland was sans their captain, out with a suspension, but Danish captain Alexander True made his presence felt instantly. He opened the scoring for Denmark 20 seconds into the game as the Danes came out absolutely flying.
Denmark’s team game has always been their strength, but their team offence has taken strides forward in seven-league boots in the past year. Less than four minutes into the period, Joachim Blichfeld scored Denmark’s second of the game.
However, Switzerland got a power play, pitting one of the tournament’s best power plays against the best penalty kill, as Morton Jensen was assessed a two and 10 for a supposed hit to the head. Denmark’s penalty kill prevailed, improving to twelve-for-twelve.
Denmark continued their tour de force as Niklas Andersen scored a power play goal at 13:40 with assists from Mathias From and Nicolai Weichel.
Denmark went to the penalty kill with five minutes left, and then went down 5-3, testing the penalty kill to the limit, and emerging unscathed — almost untested.
Unfortunately, Nico Hischier scored with just under two minutes left to go, banging in his own rebound after a very strong shift making the score 3-1.
Switzerland took a penalty in the dying seconds of the period, but they got a short-handed rush, and Denmark negated the man advantage as Nikolaj Krag took a hooking call. After 20, Switzerland was outshooting Denmark 18-8, but the score was 3-1 for the Danes.
Denmark came out just as strong in the second, as Mathias From scored 30 seconds in on a beautiful dish from True on the four-on-four.
Switzerland cut the lead in half though as Yannick Zehnder got past the Danish defence and beat Krog at 6:29.
Krag had an excellent chance for Denmark, but Nando Eggenberger scored as the rebound attempt trickled agonizingly past Krag to put the Swiss within one.
After the goal, Switzerland absolutely turned on the pressure, and hemmed Denmark in their own end, forcing Krag to make several important saves. Denmark did eventually counter-punch as Blichfeld and True both forced Switzerland to defend towards the end of the period, but the second ended back in the Danish zone. Denmark was outshot 32-17 after two periods.
Switzerland picked up pretty much where they left off to begin the third, but Krag looked absolutely calm and collected, allowing the Danes to weather the early storm.
They ran into some turnover trouble as a little bit of doubt crept into their game with Switzerland breathing down their necks, and it caught up with them as Zehnder scored his second of the game to tie it up.
With 12:25 played in the period, Switzerland thought they scored off of a scramble at the ne, and though the puck was definitely across the line, there was a lengthy review which resulted in a no-goal call.
With the goal called back, some of the wind appeared to be taken out of Switzerland’s sails, and Denmark looked more collected, but Switzerland did carry a good deal of the resulting play, having accumulated 44 shots with 7:50 left to play.
Mathias Rondbjerg took a hooking penalty, and an absolutely crucial penalty kill followed for the Danes. They were fortunate as Marco Miranda took a hooking penalty of his own behind the Danish net, and the teams went to a 4-on-4 before the Danes had a brief power play of their own.
After the power play, there were chances both ways for ultimate suspense through the final minutes of the game, and in the final two, Switzerland pressed hard. Krog remained calm and collected behind an increasingly tentative Danish squad, and with 35.6 seconds left, Olaf Eller called a time out to rally the troops.
Denmark carried the play after the time out, but the game went to overtime.
In overtime, Denmark was nervous, Finland was nervous, and I was nervous, but Kasper Krog looked as cool as the proverbial cucumber, and the only reason Denmark hung on to make it to the shootout.
Joren van Pottelberghe shut the door against all three Danish skaters, and Miranda scored for Switzerland, giving them the win.
Though it was disappointing that Denmark lost the game after getting out to a 3-0 lead, ultimately, they’re in the quarter-finals no matter what.
The Swiss victory means that no matter the result of tomorrow’s game between Switzerland and Finland, last year’s gold medalists will appear in the relegation round. Denmark will have to wait for the result of the Swiss game before they know which Group B team they have drawn in the quarter-finals.
- Alexander True and Mathias From have been everything Denmark could have possibly hoped in this tournament. True has been a key figure on offence, and has been relied upon in all situations, whether to settle things down, or get things going, and Mathias From has been contributing important points in the two games since he returned from injury.
- Kasper Krog was undeniably Denmark’s best player this game, being absolutely instrumental in keeping Denmark in the game after the lead dissolved, and absolutely shutting the door all through overtime.