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Avalanche Olympic Update: Feb. 21

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Jonas Holos and his Norway teammates gave Switzerland all they could handle and Peter Budaj’s Slovakia squad blanked Latvia on Saturday. But the big story of the day – as far as Avalanche players were concerned, at least – was that defenseman Ruslan Salei scored the game-winning goal in Belarus’ triumph over Germany.

After examining Saturday’s Olympic action, we’ll also take a look ahead to Sunday’s contests.

One of three games on tap today will be the much-anticipated United States/Canada contest, where Avalanche assistant captain Paul Stastny and the Americans will look to earn an automatic berth in the quarterfinals.

Norway Tripped Up By Late Goal
Holos and Team Norway picked up their first point of the tournament by taking Switzerland to overtime on Saturday. Tore Vikingstad recorded a hat trick for Norway, but Romano Lemm netted the game-winning goal 2:28 into the extra session to secure the 5-4 win for the Swiss squad.

Holos, who is leading all players at the Olympics in average ice time, skated for a game-high 29:51 against Switzerland. Click here for a full game recap from

Highlights: Check out video highlights from the Norway/Switzerland contest on

Where Norway Stands: Norway finished the preliminary round with a 0-0-1-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, placing them fourth in Group A. Following the preliminary round, all 12 teams will be ranked together, rated No. 1 – No. 12, with the top four teams earning a bye into the quarterfinals. The eight remaining teams will take part in the qualification round, with the winners then advancing to the quarterfinals. For more information on the tournament playing format, visit the IIHF’s official website.

Slovakia Blanks Latvia
Team Slovakia received goals from six different players and a 21-save effort from Jaroslav Halak en route to blanking Latvia, 6-0. Budaj did not play for the third straight game. Click here for a full recap from

Highlights: Watch video highlights from the Slovakia/Latvia matchup on

Where Slovakia Stands: Slovakia wrapped up preliminary round action with a 1-1-0-1 mark for five points, currently placing the club second in Group B. Slovakia is sandwiched between the Czech Republic (six points) and Russia (four points) in the standings.

Salei’s Tally Leads Belarus Past Germany
Belarus seemed to be in full control of its contest against Germany when Sergei Kostitsyn’s goal gave the club a 3-1 advantage with 8:50 remaining in regulation, but the German squad scored two goals in the next minute to tie the contest at 3-3.

That’s when Salei stepped up. With Belarus on a power play, the defenseman unleashed a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat German goaltender Thomas Greiss with 5:24 remaining. The tally, Salei’s fourth career Olympic goal in 16 contests, stood up as the game winner in Belarus’ 5-3 triumph. In addition to his goal, Salei was on the ice for a team-high 24:18 and posted a +3 plus/minus rating. A full recap can be found on

Highlights: Watch Salei’s goal and the rest of the highlights from Belarus’ win over Germany on

Where Belarus Stands:  Belarus’ victory – the country’s first since upsetting Sweden at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City – gave the team three points (1-0-0-2 record) after the preliminary round and placed them third in Group C.

USA, Canada To Battle Sunday
As part of what is known as “Rivalry Sunday,” the United States will take on host Canada in a showdown to decide which country will win Group A and earn an automatic berth in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Team USA has six points after beating Switzerland and Norway in regulation, while Canada has five points due to a regulation win over Norway and a shootout triumph over Switzerland. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. MT (MSNBC, CTV).

Today’s game will be the 16th all-time meeting between the United States and Canada at the Olympic Winter Games, with Canada holding a 10-2-3 advantage. The teams last met in the gold-medal game at the 2002 Olympic Games, where the Canadians earned a 5-2 victory.

Breaking Down The Bracket: columnist John Kreiser takes a look at the Rivalry Sunday matchups and examines the potential scenarios that could result from them.

Rule Differences: Where is the goaltender’s trapezoid? Why is nearly every player wearing a visor? Why are there rarely fights at the Olympics? The NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation (the governing body for hockey at the Winter Olympics) have different rules and regulations for certain aspects of the game. Take a look at an extensive list of the variations, courtesy of
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