VANCOUVER -- Zach Parise
entered these Olympics as one of two big-time scorers upon whom Team USA was counting heavily to not just play well, but put up numbers. Through the group-play phase, Parise had done the former but not the latter, buzzing around opposing nets and creating traffic that led to goals scored by others, but with no goals himself.
That all changed under the most pressurized circumstances Wednesday afternoon. Parise's redirection of a Brian Rafalski
wrist shot 2:08 into the third period finally broke the dam that was Switzerland goaltender Jonas Hiller
. And Parise got a puck out of the zone and then powered through a check to score the empty-netter in Team USA's white-knuckle 2-0 victory against Switzerland that advanced the U.S. to Friday's Olympic semifinals against Finland.
Just after exiting the Canada Hockey Place ice, Parise stopped to chat with NHL.com.
Presumably, you weren't surprised you were in a tight game with this Swiss team.
"We knew going into this that it wasn't going to be an easy game. They've got a great goalie and they play a tight-checking style. And we did a good job of not allowing ourselves to get frustrated and just sticking with it."
What was your immediate emotion when your redirection trickled over the goal line, finally breaking the scoreless tie?
"It feels good. It's really a great feeling when you score in games like this. And a little bit of relief, too."
Was frustration building on the U.S. bench as the minutes went by and the shots piled up and you still couldn't beat Hiller?
"I think we prepared ourselves for that and we didn't really get too frustrated. We knew it wasn't going to be easy to get one by him and tonight we only ended up getting one and Ryan Miller
was good again."
Players counted upon to score often allow their all-round games to dip if they don't score. You have remained impactful throughout the tournament.
"I was kind of happy with the way I was playing, but I knew I could play better. And I wanted to contribute more offensively. And I thought our line was really good tonight. We generated a lot of scoring chances and spent a lot of offensive zone time.
What does it do for Team USA going forward, to have survived a game like this?
"Again, we keep talking about how we haven't done a lot yet. We still have to win a couple of more games."