Norway wasn't supposed to put this kind of a scare into Slovakia. With 16 NHL players on the Slovak roster, including stars like Hossa and Marian Gaborik, the unassuming Norwegians were supposed to surrender easily and bow out of the tournament without much resistance.
That's not what happened at all.
Slovakia edged Norway, 4-3, on a goal by Miro Satan with 11:13 left in regulation to earn a date with Sweden in the quarterfinals Wednesday night.
The Slovaks blew a 3-1 lead they built after the first 20 minutes and nearly gave away their one-goal lead late in regulation when the Norwegians were pushing for the equalizer. When it was finally over, Hossa stopped to talk about it with NHL.com.
He wasn't too pleased, but he also believes his team will be better against Sweden as a result of how they played against Norway.
NHL.com: After playing such a tight, close game tonight where you really had to lay it all out on the line, how do you get back up to play an even bigger one tomorrow night against Sweden?
Hossa: Well, we know we didn't play good at all tonight, nobody did. We didn't play at all as a team. Those games are good as long as you win. We know we have to improve to play against Sweden. Everybody has to be much better.
NHL.com: Sweden is the defending gold medalists, so everyone is going to look at them as the favorites because of that. Does the underdog status suit you guys even though you have a lot of NHL players, a lot of quality players?
"We know we have to improve to play against Sweden. Everybody has to be much better." -- Slovakia's Marian Hossa
Hossa: You know what? Tonight we knew we had to win and for whatever reason we were a little bit nervous. Even when we had the lead 3-1, the puck didn't sit on our sticks. It was bouncing and we weren't in our spots. I think we are going to be more comfortable playing against a stronger team, a team that creates more offense and doesn't just sit back in the neutral zone. I think Sweden is going to play good defensively, but it won't be just tight in the neutral zone and I think we'll play better."
NHL.com: Are you worried about exhaustion after playing a real hard one tonight while they were sitting there watching it?
Hossa: That's how it is. We haven't played for almost two and a half days and we were very sloppy tonight. We had a good lesson and I think we'll be well prepared tomorrow.
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