Skip to Main Content

Sprunger scores two power-play goals as Switzerland defeats Belarus 2-1 @NHLdotcom

QUEBEC - Even though Belarus added a dose of NHL-talent to their roster, the final product lacked offensive zing.

Julien Sprunger scored two power-play goals to lead Switzerland to a 2-1 win over Belarus at the IIHF World Hockey Championship on Monday. Belarus bolstered its lineup by adding four NHL players: Montreal Canadiens' forwards Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn and Mikhail Grabovski, as well as Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ruslan Salei.

However, none provided the much-needed offensive punch the team needed against the Swiss after scoring five goals against Sweden one game earlier.

Sprunger, a Minnesota Wild prospect, put Switzerland (2-0) ahead 1-0 in the first period. His shot from the right circle beat Belarus goalie Vitaly Koval and went in off the crossbar.

The left winger broke a 1-1 tie with his second of the game and third of the tournament. He deflected Thibault Monnet's point shot at 14:36 of the second period with what proved to be the winner.

"It's sort of my role on this team to score, so when I get my chances I try to take them," Sprunger said.

Monnet also assisted on Sprunger's first goal.

In other round-robin action Monday, it was: Finland 3 Norway 2 (OT); Sweden 9 France 0; and Germany 4 Slovakia 2.

At Quebec, Belarus (0-2) made it 1-1 at 7:34 of the second when Konstantin Koltsov stripped Swiss defenceman Philippe Furrer of the puck, then beat Ottawa Senators goalie Martin Gerber with a backhand shot to the glove side.

The Swiss had the home-crowd advantage with a few hundred of their fans in attendance among a sparse announced gathering of 8,016 at Le Pepsi Colisee.

Switzerland's supporters - decked out in red jerseys - sang, chanted and even unfurled a giant Swiss flag to start all three periods.

Koval was solid in goal, stopping 29 shots. Gerber made 22 saves.

"They had a few good chances, especially on the power play," Gerber said. "We tried to be really careful with giveaways in their zone because we knew they were a good team off the rush."

Salei acknowledged Belarus took too many penalties. The veteran defenceman himself was in the penalty box on Sprunger's winning goal.

"They capitalized on the power play twice and we didn't score once," Salei said.

Salei said it will take a bit of time to adjust to a new game and system, but he also complained the building was extremely hot.

"It feels like a sauna in here," Salei said. "But there are no excuses, we should have played better tonight."

The Swiss club said they play the same way every time - a sound defensive game that effectively shut down Belarus' most dangerous forwards.

"I have to compliment my guys who don't have the NHL offensive skills, but they definitely have the NHL defensive skills," said Swiss coach Ralph Krueger.

Belarus head coach Curt Fraser said the NHL quartet are used to playing under pressure.

"They put pressure on themselves tonight to compete hard for their teammates," Fraser said. "They played hard but the penalties were a huge difference in the game and our power play didn't produce when we had a chance."

Andrei Kostitsyn took a high-sticking penalty to negate a power-play in the third and spent the last minutes of the game serving a misconduct penalty with his team down by a goal.

He was joined by his brother when Belarus took its second too many men penalty of the game with 33 seconds remaining to play.


Finland 3 Norway 2 (OT)

At Halifax, Tuomo Ruutu's goal 1:27 into overtime helped Finland escape with a win over the plucky Norwegians.

Jussi Jokinen and Ville Peltonen had the other goals for the Finns (2-0).

Morten Ask had a goal and an assist while Anders Bastiansen also scored for Norway (0-2).


Sweden 9 France 0

At Quebec, Niclas Backstrom scored twice in Sweden's rout of France.

Kenny Jonsson, Alexander Edler and Mattias Weinhandl each had a goal and two assists for the Swedes (2-0), while Patric Hornqvist, Niclas Wallin, Tony Martensson and Robert Nilsson added singles. Fredrik Warg chipped in with four assists, while Stefan Liv made 16 saves for the shutout.

Fabrice Lhenry and Cristobal Huet combined to stop 42 shots in defeat for the French (0-2).


Germany 4 Slovakia 2

At Halifax, Michael Hackert scored twice, including the game winner late in the second period, as the Germans upended Slovakia.

Stefan Ustorf and Marco Sturm added singles for Germany (1-1).

Juraj Kolnik and Ivan Ciernik countered for the Slovaks (1-1).

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.