Some late game power by the Germans helped pull off a huge victory, stealing a 2-1 win away from the Latvians late in the match.
It’s not everyday that Germany and Latvia play important games against each other, but that was definitely the case in Prague today. Latvia came into the game in last place in Group A, sitting tied with Austria with just two points. Germany hasn’t had a great tournament, either, but their their three points still gave them a mathematical chance to beat the Swiss in the standings.
One of the smaller story lines throughout the tournament was Germany’s powerful penalty kill. Despite being one of the weaker teams in the tournament, the Germans had yet to allow a single goal while down a man, a trait that only Canada, Finland and Switzerland can claim to as well.
Their perfect PK finally fell through on the 13th chance. With the Latvians buzzing around the net, Kaspars Daugavins made a pass from the left of the German net right to Lauris Darzins, who fired a one-timer from the high slot past Dennis Endras to make it 1-0 Latvia.
The Latvians looked to have taken the two goal lead early in the second, but fortunately for Germany, the shot would be waved off. Miks Indrašis tried fighting his around the German net, but instead found himself standing directly behind Endras by the time Miķelis Rēdlihs fired the shot into the back of the net. The goal was considered to be no good right off the bat, as Endras couldn’t really move with a player standing in the crease.
If the Germans were going to fight back, they would need to stop spending time in the box and work more on using their speed to be the Latvians in their own zone. Unfortunately for them, they would post 10 minutes in the box over two periods, continuously hurting their own momentum.
Finally, after minutes had accumulated in the third, the Germans would go on the power-play. It was a long one for them, too, as former Florida Panthers forward Jānis Sprukts would get five and a game after going knee-on-knee with Patrick Köppchen. With the German defense hurting thanks to a suspension to Stephan Daschner, it was good to see Köppchen return to the play after a short stay on the bench,
Latvia’s power-play percentage hasn’t been good in this tournament. In fact, it was actually the second worst coming into the game, sitting at 66.67% off of 18 chances. The extended power-play didn’t help them, as Michael Wolf would get Germany on the board after spinning around on a Patrick Reimer rebound in front to confuse Edgars Masaļskis.
The final few minutes saw incredible action. Whether it was a huge breakaway save by Endras or a crossbar heart breaker by Matthias Plachta, the action was not to be ignored. But wait, was it really a no-goal call on the Plachta play? After 20 seconds of play, the refs decided to review the shot that they believed may have actually gone in. The shot would get reviewed, and after a few a minutes of checking angles, it was announced that the puck did indeed cross the line and that Germany would take the huge 2-1 lead with about 2:30 left in the game. The goal would be crucial for the Germans, who would secure the victory with the late marker to keep their quarter-final chances in good standing.
After five games of play, Germany remains in fifth place with six points, three ahead of Latvia in sixth. Germany still sits two points behind Switzerland, who holds the tiebreaker over Switzerland thanks to a win earlier in the tournament. For Latvia, they’re next game against Austria tomorrow will be a big one, as it could end up being the battle to see who gets relegated when it’s all said and done.
Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.