As Austria found today, being the better team doesn’t always amount to wins, dropping a 2-1 game in overtime to Latvia.

It’s not everyday that a game between Latvia and Austria had a ton of importance, but today was easily a very big impact game for both. With Austria in 7th and Latvia in 8th in Group A, the winner of this game would up to 6th in the group play, leaping over France in the process. For Latvia, it meant just a bit more, as the team only has one more game to play after today, and with it happening to be against France, you could tell there was a bit of interest in taking the victory.

The Austrians had a quality chance to open up the scoring almost right off the bat. Just shortly after the opening faceoff, Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl was hit up high and taken out of the play, giving the Austrians the power-play. Aleksandrs Jerofejevs was the culprit on the play, getting two+ten for his actions.

The PP didn’t prove to be successful, however, but they did set the pace early by forcing Edgars Malsaskis to make some quick stops early. The Latvians likely expected Malsaskis to be the big gun for the Latvians, helping his team to a surprise 2-1 victory over Switzerland just days ago.

Unfortunately for the Latvians, it would be the Austrians that would strike first, Brian Lebler would get one with four minutes left, firing a wrist shot that went under the right arm of Malsaskis and in for the 1-0 Austrian lead.

The Latvians were lucky to really stick around in the second period. The Austrians created nearly all the chances throughout the period, but despite that, Latvia would find themselves tying the game up. Lauris Dārziņš would be given credit for the first goal, skating right into the slot to pick up the puck from a scramble before sending it over the falling Bernhard Starkbaum to make it 1-1.

One of the biggest saves of the game came when things got really important. With six minutes to go, Florian Mühlstein stole the puck at the blue line and rushed in on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Right at the last second, he made the pass to Thomas Raffl, but his one-timer was stopped by a huge pad save by Masalskis to keep things tied.

The game would require overtime to declare the victor, and like earlier in the tournament, Kaspars Daugavins would be there to put it home. The goal just 33 seconds into OT gave Latvia the 2-1 win, a victory that may have been stolen after the way the team had played for most of the game.

Latvia’s win helps them in the standings, putting them at sixth place with four points. But France and Austria (3P) both have an extra game to play, and if France defeats Latvia on Tuesday, the final match for Latvia, things wont look good for them. For Austria, a victory in regulation over Germany could really help propel them into a higher spot before facing Canada to finish things off on Tuesday.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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