NBC Olympics staff will select three stars to spotlight special performers from each day’s competition.
Danny Aus den Birken, Germany: The goaltender made 28 saves and stopped all three shots he saw in the shootout as Germany topped Norway to earn its first win of the PyeongChang Olympics. It was a big win for Germany, which hasn’t had much recent success on the international stage and didn’t even qualify for the 2014 Games in Sochi. The Germans still have to play Switzerland in Tuesday’s qualifying round to get to the quarterfinals, but the victory gives them some much-needed good news.
Patrik Zackrisson, Sweden: The 30-year-old scored a crucial game-winning goal against Finland, burying a rebound from just outside the crease after a shot from the point bounced weakly off the goaltender’s pad. The score put Sweden up 2-1, and the win clinched top spot in Group B, meaning Zackrisson and co. now have a day off before their next game. The Swedes await the winner between Switzerland and Germany, and they will play with a semifinal spot on the line in two days’ time.
Ayaka Toko, Japan: Without having won an Olympic game before 2018, the Japanese have plenty of reasons to smile. Toko launched a slap shot in overtime to propel Japan to their second consecutive win, and first against a European country. Japan will play Switzerland in a battle for fifth place to close out its trip to the Winter Games.
“This time we only got to the preliminaries, but next time we’re aiming for a medal,” Toko said.