February 16, 2006
TURIN, Italy (AP) - David Aebischer got stronger with each Czech shot that smacked against his pads.
He turned aside 40 shots - including 20 in the second period - and carried Switzerland to one of its greatest hockey victories, a 3-2 win Thursday over the world champion Czechs.
''It's great for Swiss hockey that we won,'' said Aebischer, who stopped Jaromir Jagr six times in the second period. ''We have to be careful because it's one game.''
Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mark Streit, who has only one NHL goal this season, gave the Swiss a 3-2 lead during a power play 6:42 into the third.
''I think it's by far the biggest win in Swiss hockey - since I've been playing. Even in history,'' Streit said. ''It's kind of a miracle.''
Aebischer, who succeeded Patrick Roy as the Colorado Avalanche's top goalie, was brilliant while his team was short-handed for most of the final seven minutes of the middle period. Switzerland was ahead 2-1 when the parade to the penalty box began.
The Swiss (1-1 in Group A), who had just two NHL players in their lineup, were whistled for six of the final eight penalties in the period and were down two men for about two minutes. Aebischer got tougher as flag-waving fans chanted his name.
Marek Zidlicky tied it 2-2 for the Czech Republic (1-1) a minute into the third, but that was the last goal they'd get.
''They wanted it more, I guess,'' New York Rangers forward Martin Rucinsky said. ''Maybe it's a good thing that happened to us. Maybe it will wake us up and give us a warning.''
Jagr, who scored the first goal for the Czechs to tie it 2:55 into the second, had several other chances. After going without a shot in the first period, Jagr fired from all over. He was stopped by the very bottom of Aebischer's left pad on a drive from the right circle. Set up there again during a power play, Jagr fired high out of play.
''I think a couple of times he missed his shot,'' Aebischer said.
Tomas Vokoun made 16 saves in place of injured Czech goalie Dominik Hasek and said he didn't feel any added pressure.
''No, I just played bad,'' he said.
A team physical therapist said Hasek, who has an injured left hamstring, has a 30-40 per cent chance of playing again in the Olympics. He will test his sore, stiff leg on Friday.
Thomas Ziegler gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead in the first period and Thierry Paterlini answered Jagr's goal in the second by getting to his feet after being knocked down to net a short-handed tally midway through the period.
Switzerland earned only one Olympic win in 2002 and hasn't finished higher than fifth since 1952.
Aebischer, 22-13-2 this season with Colorado, made 13 saves during the third period of Switzerland's 5-0 loss to Finland on Wednesday. He replaced Martin Gerber, who allowed all the goals on 24 shots.