Russia’s title defense started off strong in the opening game of the men’s Olympic hockey tournament, defeating Switzerland 1-0 off the heels of a late first-period goal.
The story of the game was the play of Russian netminder and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ivan Fedotov. The 6-foot-8 goaltender, playing in his first major international tournament for the Russians, came up big on a variety of opportunities against a determined Swiss effort. Fedotov finished the contest with a 33-save shutout, a big result in his Olympic debut.
The opening period was fairly even, with Switzerland taking a 9-8 shot advantage into the first break. But with just 2.7 seconds left, Anton Slepyshev scored Russia’s first goal after his shot attempt banked off Enzo Corvi’s leg and in for the late-period back-breaker.
The Swiss were forced to play without two of its key forwards, Dario Simion and Denis Malgin, while they remained in isolation. That did not stop the Swiss from having a good first half, though, outshooting the Russians 16-12 after 30 minutes of play.
Switzerland nearly found itself back on the board thanks to a double minor to Slepyshev, who was called for headbutting. The penalty carried over into the third period, which likely took away any Swiss momentum gained late in the second. The Russians were able to keep it out of too much harm, and a penalty by Romain Loffel put a premature end to the man advantage. The Swiss did have a shot go underneath the crossbar and out early on the power play, but couldn’t muster much in the final three minutes of the double minor.
Switzerland desperately tried everything they could to score in the final minutes of play, with Fabrice Herzog getting a great chance with under three minutes to go. After knocking the puck out of the air, he took the puck all alone and beat Fedotov with a quick move. But instead of putting it in the empty cage, Herzog hit the far post on a seemingly open cage, marking the end of Switzerland’s offensive opportunities by failing to force overtime.
Reto Berra kept his team in the game late in the running, making a couple of key stops while down a man late. Berra finished with 29 stops, with the lone goal against not really being his own fault.
Both teams will get Thursday off before resuming Friday. Russia will play Denmark in the first game of the day, with Switzerland meeting the Czech Republic later on.