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Germany, Italy playing for national pride

NHL.com @NHL

Two teams playing for little more than national pride face off Saturday when Germany takes on host Italy.

Both teams are 0-2 coming in and the loser of this contest is almost assured of elimination from medal-round play starting Wednesday.

Germany opened the tournament with a 4-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Wednesday before falling 5-1 to defending gold-medal winner Canada Thursday.

San Jose defenseman Christian Ehrhoff scored the lone goal Thursday for the Germans, who got 35 saves from Sharks prospect Thomas Greiss.

"The game was quite predictable," said German coach Uwe Krupp, who played with six teams during a 16-year NHL career. "They established themselves in the first period and then they just did enough to bring home the victory."

Krupp called Greiss - San Jose's second-round pick in 2004 - his country's most promising goalie and said he earned the right to play against Canada. NHL veteran Olaf Kolzig, though, will be back in net for this contest after losing to the Czechs on Wednesday.

Italy allowed five power-play goals in a 6-0 loss to Finland on Thursday after a 7-2 opening defeat to Canada on Wednesday.

The Italians stayed in the game for more than a period, much as they did against the Canadians, but allowed two unanswered goals after cutting the lead to 3-1 at 9:13 of the second.

"The five power-play goals killed us," Italian forward Tony Iob said. "We hung in there in the first period, and then, like the first game, it came down to penalties. If we don't get called on too many penalties, it prolongs our chances."

Italian goaltenders Gunther Hell and Jason Muzzatti have combined to give up an Olympic-worst 13 goals.

Italy, whose best Olympic showing was a seventh-place finish at the 1956 Games at Cortina d'Ampezzo, will meet the Czech Republic on Sunday and Switzerland on Tuesday. Germany, meanwhile, plays Switzerland Sunday and Finland on Tuesday.

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