Olympic Hockey Roundup: Russians edge Swiss, Denmark wins men's debut

Russian Olympic Committee's Andrei Chibisov (76) and Switzerland's Santeri Alatalo (2) have words during a preliminary round men's hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Beijing. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

With NHLers not in the Olympics for the second time in a row, the Russians are favoured by many to defend their men's hockey title.

One game does not make a tournament, but Wednesday's opener showed that the Russians aren't going to breeze to the title.

A lucky bounce for former Edmonton Oiler Anton Slepyshev provided the Russians with the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Slepyshev's backhander from below the goal line bounced off a player in front and got past former Calgary Flames goaltender Reto Berra with 2.7 seconds left in the first period.

Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov made 33 saves for the shutout.

The Swiss pressed hard for the equalizer down the stretch. Fabrice Herzog – a fifth-round Toronto Maple Leafs pick in 2013 who hasn't played in the NHL – hit the post when he missed an open net on a rebound with less than five minutes left.

Herzog had another chance from point-blank range in the final minute but fired high.

With the KHL considered the second-best league in the world, it's generally acknowledged that the Russians can put together the best roster minus NHLers.

But nothing came easy against the Swiss, who have fallen short of the quarterfinals the past two Olympics.

Switzerland outshot the Russians 33-30.

Denmark 2, Czech Republic 1

Denmark upset the Czechs in its first Olympic men's hockey game in the country's history. Danish goalie Sebastian Dahm, who played in the OHL from 2005-08 before making a run through the minors and then eventually landing in Europe, stopped 39 shots. The Czechs outshot Denmark, 40-17.

Finnish forward returns

Finland forward Marko Anttila has returned to the team after being released from an isolation hotel. Coach Jukka Jalonen expects goaltender Jussi Olkinuora to be out later Wednesday.

Anttila had been in isolation for six days because he tested positive for COVID-19. Olkinuora was taken to isolation Monday.

"Of course it was disappointing for me, but otherwise it was just boring," Anttila said after practice. "Of course it's frustrating, and I feel good physically and all those things. But I think it's history, hopefully, now and I can get my (virus numbers at) the right level."

Anttila said he first tested positive for the coronavirus a little over three weeks ago. The 36-year-old had no symptoms after testing positive upon arrival in Beijing or during any of his time in isolation.

Getting back into hockey shape is the bigger concern with Finland's first game scheduled for Thursday against Slovakia.

"Of course the feeling is not that good on the ice right now, but physically I'm OK," Anttila said. "I get workouts there and all those things, so it's not a problem."

Thursday schedule

Sweden vs. Latvia, 11:10 p.m. ET (Wednesday)
Finland vs. Slovakia, 3:40 a.m.
Canada vs. Germany, 8:10 a.m.
China vs. United States, 8:10 a.m.

Thursday spotlight

China makes its Olympic men's debut after the International Ice Hockey Federation decided not to replace the host country with Norway in December. There had been concerns about the host country's roster, which will feature 11 Canadians. China's players have been playing with the KHL's Kunlun Red Star this season.

Women's tournament

The first quarterfinal goes Thursday at 11:10 p.m. ET when the Americans face the Czech Republic. Canada plays its quarterfinal Friday at 8:10 a.m. ET against Sweden. The Russians meet Switzerland Friday at 11:10 p.m. ET and Japan takes on Finland on Saturday at 3:40 a.m. ET.

-- With files from The Associated Press

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