They clawed back from a 3-0 hole in the second period and then erased another one-goal deficit in the third, but the end result was another disappointing loss for Zemgus Girgensons and Latvia against Switzerland at the IIHF World Championship in Moscow, Russia on Wednesday.
The Latvians' comeback efforts were stifled by a late goal from defenseman Eric Blum, who scored with 1:29 remaining in regulation to earn a 5-4 win for the Swiss. It marked the third one-goal loss of the tournament for winless Latvia, now 0-2-0-2 and still in last place in Group A with three games to play in the Preliminary Round.
After playing a scoreless first period, the two teams turned in mirror performances in the second. Nino Niederreiter scored two power-play goals and Gregory Hoffman added a third to give the Swiss a three-goal advantage in the first 10 minutes; Latvia's Mikelis Redlihs scored back-to-back power-play goals and Ronalds Kenins added an unassisted tally to tie the game in the next 10 minutes.
When Sven Andrighetto scored to recapture the lead for Switzerland in the third period, Aleksejs Sirokovs answered with a goal for Latvia 26 seconds later.
After Blum scored from the point in the closing minutes, however, Latvia ran out of time to answer. Add it to the list of near-wins in this tournament for the Latvians, who previously lost in overtime in their opener against Sweden and in a shootout in the following game against the Czech Republic.
Girgensons tallied two shots in 20:41 of ice time, but did not register a point. The Sabres forward has one goal in four games.
With potential relegation beginning to become a factor, Latvia will look to climb out of the Group A cellar beginning on Friday with a game against Denmark at 1:15 p.m. EST. The Danes sit two points ahead of Latvia in the standings but have a game in hand.
The Sabres in Group B, meanwhile, will return to action on Thursday. Hudson Fasching, Jake McCabe and Team USA will play France live on NBCSN at 9:15 a.m. EST while Ryan O'Reilly, Sam Reinhart and undefeated Canada will play Germany at 1:15 p.m.