By Mark Purdy
Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 4:55 pm in Uncategorized.
Shark fans must have felt a very familiar ugly pang in their stomachs Wednesday afternoon as they watched the USA men’s hockey team try to beat Switzerland in an Olympic quarterfinal.
As the game moved on through the first two periods, the USA was outshooting the Swiss, 32 to 8. But the game was still scoreless, mostly thanks to the play of Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller.
The very same Mr. Hiller, of course, was the Anaheim Ducks goalie who shut down the Sharks last spring in their first round playoff defeat.
Eventually, the USA figured out a way to push a goal past Hiller and win the game, 2-0 (the second was an empty net goal). But getting there was not half the fun. In fact, it was no fun.
“He’s a great goalie,” said USA forward Joe Pavelski, who felt the same Hiller-angst as a Shark player 10 months ago. “He’s done that to a lot of teams in this tournament. He seems to get better as it goes along.”
Pavelski said, though, that a bizarre finish to the second period — when the USA appeared to score a goal but had it nullified when a replay showed the puck had crossed the line two-tenths of a second after the period ended — might have worked in favor of the USA. Hiller had looked bad on the play as the puck wobbled like a butterfly off his own shoulder and glove before trickling into the net.
“That might have gotten into his mind,” Pavelski said, noting that the USA eventually did score on a smiliar play two minutes into the third period, when Zach Parise tipped a shot by Brian Rafalski and the puck again fluttered past Hiller.
“It was still unfortunate we didn’t get that first one, though,” said Pavelski. “How close is two-tenths of a second, really? This isn’t speed skating.”