The Latvians picked a fine time to win their first contest of the Winter Olympics, defeating Switzerland 3-1 in a qualification playoff game.
On Wednesday, the Swiss shutout the Latvians 1-0 in group play but were unable to pick up a second-straight win over Team Latvia when it mattered most.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller was between the pipes for Switzerland and allowed his first goal of the Winter Games early on in the first period. Hiller’s previous two starts and two shutouts quickly became distant memory as the Latvians used an even strength and power play goal to carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Simon Moser were again unable to contribute offensively for Switzerland, and the Swiss forwards repeatedly came up empty against Latvian netminder Edgars Masalskis.
Carrying just a single NHL player on their roster and zero wins in Sochi into the contest, the Latvians solved Hiller early and then hung on.
Moser was the hero in the previous matchup between the two teams as he provided the only offense of the contest with the game-winning goal in the final seconds. No such luck this time, however.
It’s the Latvians, not Josi and Moser, who head on to face Predators captain Shea Weber and Team Canada.
With Team Switzerland’s elimination, 66 percent of the Predators participating in this year’s Olympiad return home to Nashville a little earlier than they probably anticipated.
Weber will try to continue his strong play in Sochi tomorrow, when heavy-favorite Canada faces Latvia at 11 a.m. (CST).
The rest of the Predators not playing in Sochi will be returning to the ice tomorrow as well. The team practices at Centennial Sportsplex at 2 p.m. (CST).