After a back-and-forth game that included a pair of Sabres players and a Sabres coach, Latvia eventually defeated the United States today in the IIHF World Championships. After all was said and done, Latvia came out on top by a score of 6-5.
Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons was named best player of the game for Latvia.
Girgensons had one goal and two penalty minutes and won 7 of 11 faceoffs taken. He had two shots and finished the night with a minus-1 rating in 18:23 ice time. Girgensons has one goal and nine shots in four games in the 2014 IIHF World Championships so far.
On the other side, Sabres forward Jake McCabe was held off the scoresheet in just over 16 minutes of ice time for Team USA. He’s still looking for his first point in this year’s World Championships.
Latvia opened the scoring 15:39 into the first period on a goal by Gints Meija. Exactly one minute later, the US tied things up on a goal by Craig Smith, assisted by Toronto’s Jake Gardiner. Before the first period could end, Latvia scored again – this time at the hands of Jekabs Redlihs – to take a 2-1 lead into the second period.
Latvia would increase their lead in the second period with a power-play goal by Aleksandrs Nizivijs, but the United States came back to tie things up on goals by Brock Nelson and Tyler Johnson. Seth Jones, Craig Smith and Jacob Trouba all assisted on the second-period goals.
The third period was back-and-forth. It started with a Latvian goal by Kaspars Daugavins at the 11:25 mark to make it 4-3. Seth Jones scored 2:01 later, assisted by Justin Abdelkader, to tie it up at four aside.
Just a minute and nine seconds after the US tied it up, Girgensons scored his first goal of the World Championships to give Latvia the lead once more.
Three minutes and change later, captain Herberts Vasiljevs scored for Latvia to make it 6-4.
The United States would pull goaltender Tim Thomas for the extra attacker with just over two minutes left in regulation, and it would prove fruitful, as Brock Nelson tallied to make it 6-5 in favor of Latvia.
However, they were ultimately unable to complete the comeback, and in the end, Ted Nolan‘s Latvia team captured the victory over the United States.
Tim Thomas had 19 saves in the loss, while Kristers Gudlevskis had 31 saves for Latvia in the win.
Former Rochester Americans netminder David Leggio didn’t see any action in today’s game, but it’s uncertain at this point if he could play when the US faces Kazakhstan tomorrow. Next up for Girgensons, Nolan and Latvia is a game against Russia on Saturday.