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Orpik, Americans Advance to Semifinals at 2010 Winter Olympics

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
You have to give the Swiss high marks for their grit, intensity and ability to keep the score close against a superior opponent.

Still, Brooks Orpik and Team USA was able to fight off a pesky Switzerland squad to post a 2-0 victory in the opening contest of the quarterfinal round. The Americans will face the winner of Wednesday night’s Finland-Czech Republic matchup on Friday for the right to play in Sunday’s Gold Medal Game.

Once again a goaltending battle broke out at Hockey Canada Place, and for the fourth time in four ties, it was American netminder Ryan Miller coming out on top. Miller made 19 saves to offset one of the most dominant goaltending performances in Olympic history at the other end of the rink from Switzerland’s Jonas Hiller, who stopped 42 of 43 shots.

Zach Parise put the Americans in the driver’s seat for good when he opened the scoring at 2:08 of the third period on a power play.

Brian Rafalski’s wrist shot from the center point was stopped by Hiller, but nobody on the Swiss penalty kill put a body on Parise standing to the left of Hiller. Parise chipped a shot just over the goal line for his first goal of the tournament.

The only reason the United States took that long to get a tally on the board was the sheer brilliance of Hiller, who was easily the best player on the ice for either team.

Through two periods Hiller had faced 33 shots, compared to only eight for Miller.

In fact, only Phil Kessel and Ryan Kesler of Team USA came particularly close to finding the back of the twine.

Kessel made a great outside-in move late in the opening period to fire a snap shot from the top of the right circle. His shot beat Hiller to the short side, but the puck ricochet off the post.

Kesler was able to beat Hiller just as the second period was drawing to a close, but not before the buzzer sounded. With seconds remaining, Kesler threw a turnaround shot on Hiller from a bad angle in the near corner. Hiller had the puck bounce off his stick and shoulder before landing over the goal line. Replays confirmed the puck went in a split second after the clock struck 0.0.

Switzerland had a great chance to tie the score less than two minutes after Parise’s goal when Sandy Jeanin slid a shot along the ice behind Miller but the puck hit the opposite post.

Both goaltenders held the fort from there until Parise added an empty-net score with 12 seconds remaining to ice it for the Americans.

Team USA improves to 4-0 with the victory. They will await the winner of the Finland-Czech Republic matchup, which drops the puck at 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.

In other Olympic quarterfinal action, Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury and Team Canada take on Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and the Russians at 7:30 p.m. The nightcap features defending gold-medalist Sweden facing Slovakia at 11:55 p.m.

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