Road To The Olympic Games


Slovakia shuts out Latvia in men's hockey

Six different players scored and Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves as Slovakia beat Latvia 6-0 on Saturday in men's hockey at the Vancouver Olympics.

Halak makes 21 saves in win

Six different players scored and Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves as Slovakia beat Latvia 6-0 on Saturday in men's hockey at the Vancouver Olympics.

Lubomir Visnovsky, Richard Zednik and Jozef Stumpel scored in the first period, Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus had goals in the second, and Ivan Baranka scored in the third. The victory followed Slovakia's upset win in a shootout over Russia on Thursday.

"The huge win against the Russians after a tough loss to the Czechs on back-to-back gives us a lot of confidence," Hossa said. "That was huge for our team."

Halak might be the difference Slovakia needs to stay in Vancouver for more than a few more days.

"That's something we didn't have in previous international tournaments, such quality goaltending," said Miroslav Satan, who returned from a hand injury to play. "It's giving a lot of confidence to the rest of the team also. It's great to see him playing like he was in Montreal."

'Maybe shock somebody'

The Slovaks finished group play with two wins in three games, but that is not enough to earn an automatic berth into the quarter-finals.

They will have to keep winning to stay in Vancouver, and have to beat an undetermined opponent on Tuesday to advance.

"We have momentum and it's up to us to keep it," Satan said.

Edgars Masalskis stopped 31 shots for Latvia. He had an awful start, getting beaten three times on his glove side. Visnovsky took advantage of Slovakia's first power play with a goal 2:44 into the game, and Hossa's goal one minute into the second period was also with the extra man. Handzus scored one minute later to make the score 5-0.

At that point, the Slovaks had scored on one-third of their shots while giving up just six shots to the Latvians.

Latvia will play at least another game, probably against a team that just missed earning a bye.

"Now everyone is in the same spot other than the four teams that are closer to the medal round," forward Lauris Darzins said. "If we play a good team that looks at the scores we've had this tournament, they're going to underestimate us.

"That's what we can take positive out of this and maybe shock somebody."