Russia vs Switzerland, 6-2

In the first quarterfinal matchup of the evening, last-place Group A team Russia took on first-place Group B team Switzerland. There were no surprises in net, with Florence Schelling starting for the Swiss, and Nadezhda Morozova in goal for Russia following a solid performance against Finland.

First Period

Russia starts off with a bad turnover in the Swiss zone, Valeria Pavlova turning the puck right over to Lara Stalder. That’s a very bad idea, even if Stalder isn’t able to make anything of it.

Phoebe Staenz carries it in, fends off a Russian defender, shows patience and gives Dominique Ruegg a very nice feed in the slot

Olga Sosina strips Nicole Gass behind Schelling, and Russia sets up and gets off several shots. Sosina tries a strong wraparound attempt, and then when it hits Schelling’s pads, collects it and tries again from the top of the crease.

At the other end of the ice, Nicole Bullo and Stalder try a pretty passing play, but Bullo’s shot from the point goes well wide.

The Russians are having a lot of trouble connecting on their passes, and the Swiss are having a lot of trouble maintaining control of the puck after they get it. This is going to be a back-and-forth game, and a lot of time has already been spent in the neutral zone.

The first penalty of the game is drawn by Stalder, charging forward with the puck into the Russian zone. Stalder’s got wheels, and the best Yekaterina Smolina can do is drag her down, giving the Swiss a power play.

Stalder tries a centering pass to Evelina Raselli in the slot, but Raselli fans. She tries it again, and although Raselli is able to connect, it goes over the cage.

Soon after, Stalder draws her second penalty in a minute, Yekaterina Nikolayeva hooking her behind the net giving Russia a 5 on 3. Sosina is able to strip it from Phoebe Staenz and carries it all the way behind Schelling before the Swiss are able to regain control and re-enter their zone.

This might be the most jaw-dropping goal this tournament. Anna Shokhina outright robs Stalder at the blue line after Stalder is unable to keep the puck in, and is off with a breakaway. Shokhina holds onto the puck with admirable patience, waiting and waiting as she slides around the top of the crease until Schelling is down and she’s able to fire a sharp-angle shot over Schelling into the far top corner. Shokhina has spent the past couple years in the Russian WHL basically scoring at will, and she had Russia’s lone prior goal this tournament.

The Swiss power play seems flustered afterwards—it’s not often you give up a 5 on 3 goal, and it’s less often that you give it up to a team who’ve only managed a single goal so far in the tournament. Laura Benz gets a strong shot off from the faceoff circle as the penalty is dying, but that’s about it.

A Stalder shot right off the faceoff is saved by Morozova.

Stalder steals puck from Liana Ganeyeva at the Russian blue line and charges in. She’s swarmed by Russian defenders around the cage, but is still able to get the puck back to a Swiss player at the point, and Bullo leans into a point shot before a whistle stops play. It’s another Russia penalty, the third one this game drawn by Stalder.

The Swiss power play looks somewhat more organized than it did before. Russia isn’t able to clear the zone for about a minute, and then on the re-entry, Alina Müller hits Stalder with a great pass and she takes a great shot, and the Russian goalie bobbles it before making the save. Stalder seems determined to get a goal to make up for that giveaway; she takes another howitzer as the power play is expiring. Despite that, Russia kills off the penalty.

Amazing passing play through traffic from Sara Benz to Müller to Lisa Ruedi, and Ruedi can’t finish it, Morozova staying glued to her post.

Sloppy pass attempt by Stalder in the Russian zone leads to a turnover, but the Russians can’t do anything with it. Stalder’s offense is world-class, but she makes a couple of not-so-great defensive plays in this game, which fits with Switzerland’s not-so-great defense, generally.

Dergachyova wins a board battle in her own zone, flies up the wing, and she and Liana Ganeyeva are passing back and forth when Dergachyova is tripped along the boards by Laura Benz. The Russians have their first power play.

Stalder tries to pull off her own shorthanded rush, but the Russians were able to catch up and get the puck back.

Lyudmila Belyakova has a nice, close shot either hit the near post or saved by Schelling. It’s the best scoring chance Russia gets on the power play, and the Swiss kill it off.

Yevgenia Dyupina gets the puck along the boards in her own zone, but Nina Waidacher interrupts the rush by tripping her. It’s another Russian power play.

Isabel Waidacher, another of Switzerland’s three Waidachers, is able to poke the puck away from Sosina in the neutral zone, but she’s too exhausted to get a shot off. Phoebe Staenz is still able to collect the puck after Waidacher is stripped, and she kills off some valuable power play time just skating around the Russian zone. Switzerland is able to kill it off, and the period ends a few seconds later.

Second Period

Alina Müller is not about to let Anna Shokhina score the prettiest goal this game. She collects the puck in the neutral zone, outmaneuvers Yekaterina Nikolayeva with an almost cruel effortlessness, and puts a perfectly placed backhand over Morozova.

Müller fans on a chance a few minutes later, because seven goals this tournament is not enough for her! Another Stalder centering pass is intended for Staenz, but bounces off a Russian’s ankle and right to Morozova. The Swiss have definitely been getting good chances this game, but the vast majority have involved Stalder or Müller.

Russia’s winning a lot of board battles, something they’ve been doing effectively all tournament.

Great chance for Pavlova, wiring a shot on Schelling from a nice soft little pass by Dergachyova.

There’s a long outlet pass by Müller to Sara Benz, and she’s all alone on Morozova. She puts it wide, but it was a really great pass.

Stalder and Staenz get a two-on-two rush that looks dangerous, but Morozova makes the save on Stalder’s shot. The Swiss are able to get set up, but they need a line change, and Russia is able to take advantage of that to turn the puck the other way.

Sosina almost has a clear path to the net, but she’s not able to get the shot off cleanly.

A Russian defender lays out to block a Stalder shot, sending it the other way.

Staenz breakaway, but she runs out of room just as the defender catches up to her.

Point-blank shot from Bullo in the slot, but Nikolayeva blocks it, and then the Russian defenders are able to sweep away the rebound. It’s a good thing, because Morozova had ended up out of position and any Swiss forward would’ve had a wide-open net.

A long stretch pass from Dergachyova to Pirogova doesn’t connect, bouncing out of her reach for an icing.

Stalder draws another penalty, a body-checking call on Angelina Goncharenko. It’s almost seeming like the Russians are targeting Stalder specifically, but it also seems like she’s had the puck half of the game, so it’s probably a little bit of both.

After a nice play to glove the puck down and keep it in, Stalder’s able to take a pass from Staenz on a re-entry and find all the space she wants in the slot, firing it off the crossbar and in. Müller’s gotten a lot of attention this tournament (rightfully so) but Switzerland is lucky to have two phenomenal offensive talents out there.

Russia, however, is not going quietly. A great pass from Smolina finds Kulishova in the slot, who shoots it, and then fights her way through Bullo’s checking to grab her own rebound and sweep it past Schelling.

Nikolayeva takes a slashing penalty, which is not great for momentum.

Sosina blocked a shot, but looked to have hurt her hand—she’s shaking her glove. She still chases the puck down the ice on a clear, flinging herself down on her stomach to try and poke the puck out of reach of the Swiss. Hopefully, her hand just hurts—that would be a huge loss for Russia.

Forster has a great chance and misses the puck, ending up on her stomach, after Morozova misplays the puck right to Sara Benz.

In my preview, I said this game would be “messy” and wow, I was really quite right about that one. Watching Russia deal with Switzerland is a world away from Finland’s crisp structure.

Forster takes a penalty for holding the stick right in the crease, and Russia goes back on the power play. A point shot by Batalova is tipped out of play—you could hear the force of that shot even on the broadcast.

Watching Shokhina carry the puck in, ignoring the Swiss defenders and curling around the net to let her teammates set up, is really impressive. It pays off. Ganeyeva takes a point shot, and Nina Pirogova is right in front of Schelling to provide a screen. I’m not sure if Pirogova tipped it or if it went off Swiss defender Bullo, but either way, the result is the same—Russia has retaken the lead, and the period ends moments later.

Third Period

A backhand try on Schelling isn’t effective, but it does seem like the Russians have started feeling comfortable taking a lot of shots, even subpar ones. Scoring three goals this game must help take a lot of the stress off of an offense that only managed one goal in the preliminary round.

Smolina tries to outmaneuver Sabrina Zollinger and is nearly successful, but ends up falling flat on her face instead of getting a shot off.

The Russians are definitely making the Swiss pay much more for sloppy defense than any of the Group B teams did. Things that they easily got away with against Korea are biting them and biting them hard this game.

Stalder picks off a pass, maneuvers out of traffic in the neutral zone and comes in on a 2 on 1 with Staenz (I think). She slides a cross-ice pass to Staenz, who isn’t able to get a good shot off.

Pirogova turns the puck over to Müller and Müller comes within inches of tying it, ringing a shot off the post. That’s a terrible turnover. Thank your goalposts, Russians.

A good shift of Swiss pressure is interrupted when a Swiss pass ends up intercepted by a Russian. That’s been happening a lot, and it keeps burning them. They’re not organized enough to protect the puck well against the Russian defense. (This is what fancy writers call foreshadowing.)

Some bad neutral-zone play leads to the Swiss icing the puck, and it has quick and disastrous consequences. The Swiss win the faceoff, but a sloppy pass is quickly picked off by Shokhina, who draws everyone’s attention and then slides the puck to Dergachyova, who’s waiting by the far post to bang it home. Anna Shokhina is so good, and the best part of this game is watching her make sure everyone knows it.

Sosina tries to make it 5-2 moments later, after Switzerland allows a breakaway, but Schelling is able to make the save. It’s really fun to see Russia playing like a team that knows it can score—they haven’t looked like that in a while, especially against Finland.

Switzerland really isn’t having much luck getting its offense going. After an offsides call, Müller sends a hard shot right into the stomach of Dyupina, which Russia then sends the other way for an icing.

Stalder has a chance, sliding through the defense and getting herself space in front of Morozova, but she hangs onto the puck too long and runs out of space to shoot. That hesitation is unlike her; at this point, I’m wondering if the Russians are getting in the Swiss’ heads a bit.

Staenz is able to force the puck away from Dergachyova at the Russian blue line and take it the other way, but Russia’s defense quickly regains it, and Alevtina Shtaryova skates it back in. Bullo takes a hooking penalty as Shtaryova is about to shoot the puck, and now Switzerland is shorthanded again.

Phenomenal defensive play on Stalder by Batalova on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush, Batalova is able to keep her to the outside and stop her from creating any kind of scoring chance.

Müller and Stalder get another 2 on 1, and this time Stalder is all alone in the slot with the puck. I was definitely mentally adding a goal to the scoresheet, but Morozova was able to point-blank stone her. Phenomenal save.

After those moments of shorthanded fun times, the Russians take full advantage of that power play. They get the puck moving, and the play is finished off by Shokhina at the side of the crease. She’s really been amazing today, and with about six minutes left, the score is 5-2, Russia.

Shokhina hasn’t had enough, either. With the Swiss back on their heels and unable to regroup, she’s still dancing through the offensive zone and taking dangerous-looking shots.

Bullo goes down in the corner, after running into Tkachyova, and was slow getting off. Whatever happened, it didn’t look great.

Smolina fans on a feed through the crease, Russia still looking to add to their goal total. They’re absolutely running the play right now.

With just over two minutes remaining, the Swiss pull Schelling. Russia’s play on defense looks good, and they don’t let the Swiss get much going, right up until Dergachyova takes a tripping penalty on Müller.

It takes Switzerland almost thirty seconds to get a shot off. I appreciate a good power play cycle as much as the next girl, but that seems like a poor tactic when down by three goals in an elimination game with only a minute and a half to go.

Off the faceoff, Sosina blocks down a Christine Meier pass and takes control of the puck, racing into the neutral zone and carefully steering the puck into the empty net.

The game ends soon after that, 6-2. Russia will move onto the semifinal round and face Canada at 7:10 am on Monday, and Switzerland will play Japan at 2:40am on Sunday in their first placement game.

Finland vs Sweden

As expected, goalies for this one are Sara Grahn for Sweden and Noora Räty for Finland.

First period

Bit of a slow start but a lot of subtle physicality  going on.

Räty handles a puck in the crease awkwardly but keeps it out.

The players in this game are very vocal, it’s easy to hear teammates yelling to each other on the broadcast.

Finland is getting a lot more zone time early. Actual shots are low but Sweden is going to have trouble scoring if they can’t get out of their own zone.

Hanna Olsson takes a pass through the neutral zone but gets wedged between a pair of Finnish skaters and loses the puck.

Michelle Karvinen and Mira Jalosuo combine for a couple of chances for Finland, including a blast from Jalusuo. It’s fun when Mira uses her size.

Venla Hovi forces Maja Nylèn Persson to turn the puck over to Petra Nieminen in front of the goal. She uses a nifty move to get Grahn to bite before deking and shooting over her. That breaks the ice and it’s 1-0 Finland.

Sweden gets  some zone time following the faceoff at centre but not much in the way of shots.

Tanja Niskanen gets in on Grahn with what looks like a can’t miss opportunity but shoots wide.

Finland gets another long sequence of zone time, this time with even more shots. One attempt at a zone exit by Sweden ends in a delayed offside and it’s a while before Sweden can get it out again.

Johanna Olofsson sends a hard shot on Räty but she sees it all the way and doesn’t allow a rebound.

Flurry of shots by Finland before the puck squirts out to defender Isa Rahunen, who manages to shoot through the mass of traffic in front of Grahn and score. There’s a short discussion by the officials as to whether it was tipped by a high stick. They decide no, and the broadcast shows it actually went in off of Riikka Välilä’s mask. Välilä is credited with the goal, 2-0 Finland.

The Swedes really do look outclassed. They’re working hard but they’re not effective. Finland gets called for icing and it’s actually sort of shocking that they were that far out of Sweden’s zone.

Annina Rajahuhta goes down and Finland sets up for the longest delayed penalty 6 on 5. Eventually a shot by Karvinen hits Grahn’s pads, which is enough for play to be blown dead. Maria Lindh  goes off for tripping.

The puck actually spends less time in the Swedish zone during the Finnish power play than it has at even strength. Still, Finland gets set up at the end of the power play and Susanna Tapani gets a goal in its dying seconds. She fakes to one side of a defender, shoots to the other side and it goes in five hole on Grahn. 3-0 Finland. Assists to Noora Tulus and Linda Välimäki.

There’s about a minute and a half left in the period and I am already in “she’s already dead!” territory here. As much as no one wants Leif Boork to get a medal, and it’s the 2017 Worlds bronze medalists against the sixth place team from that tournament, only the Finns wanted to see this game so very tilted in their favour.

Anna Borgqvist is called for interference with seven seconds left, so Sweden will start the second period on the penalty kill. Shots in the first are 11-3 in favour of Finland.

Second period

Sweden starts the period by changing their goalie, as if Sara Grahn was the issue. Sarah Berglind comes in to suffer through the rest of this game.

The Finnish power play doesn’t look all that great again, they have trouble getting organized and staying in the offensive zone. There’s an opportunity right at the end of the the power play but Berglind redirects it safely away.

Tanja Niskanen is called for tripping almost immediately following the end of the power play. The replay shows that Venla Hovi actually did the deed, but regardless, Sweden gets a power play.

The puck comes out of Finland’s zone fairly promptly, but Sweden does get a shot on Räty when they bring it back in. No rebound of course. Finland aren’t really doing much on this kill. They get the puck from Sweden, shoot it down the ice to the other end and wait for Sweden to come back in with it. This happens a couple of times until Finland can’t get it back from Sweden and Räty finally has to deal with a couple of shot attempts.

Back at even strength, it’s the Team Finland show again. Tulus gets an opportunity but puts it wide.

Rebecca Stenberg carries the puck out but goes into the Finnish zone offside, which puts an end to that.

Finland is now choosing their shots, preferring to carry the puck around or cycle it waiting for the right moment. Finally the right moment comes and Michelle Karvinen sends a blast from the blueline through a screen in front of Berglind,  4-0 Finland. Assists to Minnamari Tuominen and Ronja Savolainen.

Sweden challenges for goaltender interference, but it’s pretty clearly just a tactic. Sure enough it’s a good goal and Sweden loses its timeout.

Sweden finally seems to get desperate and swarms the Finnish zone for a shift. On the next shift, Emma Nordin sends a fairly soft shot past Räty for Sweden’s first goal, 4-1. Assists to Erika Grahm  and Annie Svedin.

Finland answers back swiftly. The top line enters the Swedish zone together. Karvinen puts a puck off the post and Välilä is there to sweep it in behind Berglind, 5-1 Finland.

Sweden presses again and Räty is briefly busy.  A couple of the chances look dangerous but everything stays out.

Susanna Tapani hauls down a Swedish player. There’s a chance for Sweden before Räty stops play and Finland is on the kill again.

Sweden allows a shorthanded 2 on 1. Cassie criticizes Karvinen for play that she points out would not be effective against USA in the next game. This is part of why there’s no mercy in women’s hockey — you take your foot off the gas in one game, you might bring some bad habits into the game where you really need to work.

Tapani gets in one on one but the shot is blocked.

Annie Svedin is sent to the box for a bodycheck so Finland has the player advantage.

Finland sets up in the Swedish zone and again passes around, picking their shots. Sweden gets the puck out very briefly but we get more of the sames until Hanna Olsson skates it out for a breather.

Things go from bad to worse when Johanna Fällman deflects a puck into the crowd and Sweden is down 5 on 3 for a few seconds.

Cassie observes that in the game against Russia, Pasi Mustonen started to rest his star players, apart from on the power play. It’s been such a long power play for Finland, I don’t think any of the top players on the team are getting rest!

A ray of hope for Sweden. Rebecca Stenberg gets a shorthanded breakaway in the last few seconds of the penalty kill and snipes on Räty. 5-2.

Sweden actual led the shots in the period 9-7.

Third period

A lot of references on the broadcast to the quarterfinals at Sochi, when Sweden scored four times in the third period to beat Finland and advance.

Räty needs to be sharp early as Sweden gets the puck on net.

Things are getting a little more chippy but nothing’s being called. A little interference, a couple of hits, from both sides. Nothing as bad as I thought it might get, but if Sweden thinks they might still win there’s no need for stupid penalties.

Finland scores again (surely a four goal lead is safe?). They break into the Swedish zone, Berglind comes out to challenge and lets out a rebound. Emma Nuutinen picks it up and gets her first goal of the tournament. 6-2 Finland. Noora Tulus and Isa Rahuen get the assists.

Sabina Kuller goes off for a bodycheck and Finland sets up camp in the Swedish zone again. There’s still over thirteen minutes left in the game.

Hovi and Välimäki get a couple of chances each but Berglind stops them.

Räty loses track of the puck for a moment but has it against the post.

Another spate of possession by Sweden and Emma Nordin gets a puck on Räty from behind the net. It might be the long stretches without anything to do in the first couple of periods, but Noora has looked a little shaky. Hopefully she has a better game against USA.

Borgqvist and Jalosuo get into it after Räty stops play but the refs break it up early and no one is called.

Sweden gets hemmed in again. When they eventually get another shot on net there’s some more business between the two teams after the whistle.

More talk about Boork and Cassie is very frustrated at how long the Swedish team has been allowed to be bad under his tenure. She points out how quickly turnover happens on the men’s teams when there are problems.

Annie Svedin is called for holding. Finland fails to cash in on the power play. Just over three minutes left in the game.

Sanni Hakala gets a chance on Berglind and her first Olympic goal goes in off the post and over Berglind’s pads. 7-2 Finland. Assist to Annina Rajahuhta.

Sweden gets into the Finnish zone in the final minute of the game. The puck comes out again, they try to reset and Niskanen gets a chance on Berglind.

The horn finally sounds. Räty raises her arms in victory and her team converges on her.

Finland outshot Sweden 13-9 in the period and 31-21 in the game. They move on to the semifinals, where they’ll play Team USA on Sunday night at 11:10 pm EST.

Sweden will take on Korea Saturday night at 10:10 pm EST for their first game of the placement series.