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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Bartschi-less Swiss tackle Latvia

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Losing Bartschi to concussion-like symptoms earlier in the tournament, Bertschy stepped up against Latvia on Friday night, scoring twice while Gaetan Haas also added a pair -- including the winner -- to pace Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The win moves Switzerland to 1-0-1-1 and into an important date with Slovakia on Saturday to determine who advances to the quarter-final.

The win wasn't without a serious push back from Latvia in the third period.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored just 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Christian Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

Haas’ first came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:40 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Pulkkinen scores four as Finland routs Denmark

EDMONTON -- Teemu Pulkkinen scored 4 goals and Miikka Salomaki had 2 goals and 2 assists to lead Finland to a 10-1 victory over Denmark in Group B preliminary-round action of the 2012 World Junior Championship on Friday at Rexall Place.
 
The victory officially knocked the U.S. National Junior Team from medal contention for the first time since 1999. The U.S., which suffered a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic earlier in the day, needed winless Denmark to defeat Finland if it was to have any hope at advancing into the medal round.
 
Salomaki, Jani Hakanpaa and Ville Pokka scored goals in the first period when Finland opened a 3-0 lead on 22 shots. Pulkkinen, a 2010 fourth-round draft choice (No. 111) of the Detroit Red Wings, scored four consecutive goals to close out the scoring in the third period. He took 13 of Finland's 59 shots on goal for the game. All of Pulkkinen's goals were assisted by Mikael Granlund.
 
The line of Pulkkinen-Markus Granlund-Mikael Granlund actually finished with 11 points, including 7 assists. Finland goalie Christopher Gibson stopped 24 of 25 shots. Head coach Raimo Helminen said after the game that Sami Aittokallio, who earned the victory against the U.S. on Wednesday, would be his likely starter against the Czech Republic on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.
 
Denmark, which has allowed 38 goals in five preliminary-round games, was playing without the services of five suspended players -- including forwards Mathias Bau-Hansen, Jonas Sass-Jensen, Nicki Kisum, Anders Thode and Anders Schultz.
 
All five suspended skaters were part of a joke at the conclusion of Thursday's 10-2 setback to Canada. Upon conclusion of the usual post-game press conference, the guilty players approached the press conference media riser where coaches hold their post-game talks and began pretending to answer questions from the media. All the while posing for pictures and shaking hands.
 
It didn't take long before several news outlets and journalists began taking pictures and video of the impromptu session among friends. After seeing what those players had done while watching TSN, Denmark coach Todd Bjorkstrand decided to suspend them for the game against Finland.
 
"Obviously it's not the way we want our players acting after we lose a hockey game 10-2 against Team Canada," Bjorkstrand said. "It's the wrong way and that's it. It was my decision [and I got no feedback from the Danish Ice Hockey Association]."


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss extend lead in second period

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Switzerland continued to roll over Latvia, extending its lead to two after goals by Bertschy and Gaetan Haas.

Gaetan Haas deflected a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period. Haas coughed the puck up in front of goaltender Tim Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked Wolf backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 10:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss dominating, lead after first

CALGARY -- Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but has just a one-goal lead to show for its efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Kristers Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Christoph Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 9:44 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Knee injury sidelines Avs' Duchene at least four weeks

The Colorado Avalanche announced Friday that Matt Duchene will miss at least four weeks with a left knee injury.

Duchene sustained the injury in the first period of Thursday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes when he checked Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla. The 20-year-old Ontario native played just 2:23 in Thursday's contest, the 200th game of his career, before heading to the locker room because of the injury.

Duchene is the Avs' second-leading scorer with 12 goals and 24 points this season.

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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 8:51 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CGY @ OTT - 3:34 of the Second Period

At 3:34 of the second period in the Calgary / Ottawa game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Nick Foligno's shot entered the net in a legal fashion. Good goal Ottawa.

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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 8:31 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NSH @ STL - 8:54 of the First Period

At 8:54 of the first period in the Nashville / St. Louis game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that David Legwand kicked the puck into the net. No goal Nashville.

According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net."

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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 8:01 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CGY @ OTT - 3:40 of the First Period

At 3:40 of the first  period in the Calgary / Ottawa game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that  Olli Jokinen's shot did not cross the goal line. No goal.

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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 7:05 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Vasilevski overshadowed by Kuznetsov's performance

It's not hard to go overlooked when your teammate puts up 9 points in one game.

But that doesn't mean the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevski thus far at the 2012 World Junior Championship has gone unnoticed by his fellow Russians.

Though it was Yevgeni Kuznetsov recording 9 points in Russia's 14-0 rout of Latvia Thursday, the game also marked the second of back-to-back shutouts for Vasilevski.

Vasilevski, who has started two of Russia's three games in the tournament, has yet to allow a goal at the World Juniors, turning aside 70 straight shots en route to a pair of blankings against both Switzerland and Latvia.

The fact that a puck still hasn't gotten by Vasilevski hasn't been lost on his teammates.

"It's good for us," said Alexander Khokhlachev, who has 3 goals and three games for Russia. "When we come here we have some questions about goaltenders but he's played great for us. He's a young guy and he has two games, two shutouts."

Only two goaltenders – Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis (85) and Denmark’s Sebastian Feuk (122) have faced more shots than Vasilevski, who has yet to show a blemish on the scoresheet.

"We kept high hopes for our goalie," Kuznetsov said through a translator. "He's a young guy, so hopefully it'll continue that way."

It hasn't been the quantity of saves from Vasilevski, but the timeliness of his stops that has coach Valeri Bragin beaming about his goaltender.

"It's most important in the moments where you need your goalie to play well and he played well," Bragin said through a translator. "He played good when he needed to play good."

Vasilevski's next test will come against Sweden on New Year's Eve. He will need to be equally as good for Russia with the potential of first place in Group A on the line.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 6:32 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Power-play woes have stalled Rangers' momentum

SUNRISE, Fla. -- With the New York Rangers' power play slumping, Coach John Tortorella tried some different combinations at practice on Thursday.

He's hoping for better results starting with Friday night's game at Florida, although that doesn't necessarily mean more goals with the man advantage.

"The biggest thing with our power play that's frustrated me right now is, let alone not scoring goals, it's been the last little while here, the last few games, it's slowed our momentum down," Tortorella said. "We haven't even gained momentum off our power play. That's very important.

"You're not going to score on your power play all the time. You look at the percentages, it's 20 percent. It's not a high percentage. But you need to try to gain some momentum and we've gone the other way with it. I thought in practice yesterday it went really well, I'm hoping that we get some sort of momentum and that we get some goals out of it."

The Rangers have gone 1-for-16 on the power play over the last five games, the only goal coming from captain Ryan Callahan in the 4-2 victory over Philadelphia on Dec. 23.

New York also could use more overall production from center Brad Richards, whose only point in the last eight games came on his last-second game-winning goal at Phoenix on Dec. 17.

Tortorella said he would start Friday night's game with the same line combinations he had in Washington, but didn't rule out switching things around at some point.

That, however, does not include the line of Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik, which Tortorella says will remain intact.

Tortorella also confirmed that Henrik Lundqvist would be in net against Florida.
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp