Sweden Holds off Latvia for Third Straight Win

Saturday, 02.15.2014 / 10:37 AM PT / News
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Sweden Holds off Latvia for Third Straight Win
SOCHI -- Sweden completed play in Group C with a perfect record, but the gold medal contenders are far from perfect in the way they are playing.
By Arpon Basu | NHL.com

SOCHI -- Sweden completed play in Group C with a perfect record, but the gold medal contenders are far from perfect in the way they are playing.

Sweden won Group C with a 5-3 win against Latvia at Shayba Arena on Saturday in a game where defenseman Alexander Edler made his debut at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after serving his two-game suspension with the International Ice Hockey Federation.

After losing captain Henrik Zetterberg to injury after one game and center Henrik Sedin before the Olympics, the return of Edler was at least some good news for Sweden on the lineup front.

"It was fun. Finally I got to play," Edler said. "It's something I was looking forward to for a long time."

But forward Carl Hagelin left the game with an injury and Sweden struggled to defeat Latvia, needing a Henrik Lundqvist save on a Martins Karsums breakaway to avoid being tied 4-4 with under nine minutes to play in regulation. A little over a minute later, Edler scored to make it 5-3 and send Sweden into the quarterfinals with a 3-0-0 record in group play.

"You've got to give them a lot of credit for how they played this game," said Sweden defenseman Erik Karlsson, who had a goal and an assist to complete group play with five points in three games. "I think they shocked us a little bit and they had a good power play as well. That's what happens in these short tournaments. There's so many good nations right now that you can't take anything for granted anymore."

Karlsson began the tournament playing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, a defensive pairing that was the biggest offensive threat in Sochi. But with Edler's return, he was slotted next to Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson barely played against Latvia with 7:06 of ice time, lowest among Sweden's defensemen.

"We want to give Alex an opportunity to play in that position," Sweden associate coach Rikard Gronberg said. "I think Oliver has another step, for sure. I think he can step up a little bit. Obviously Erik is producing offensively, as you can see. They're both very talented players. But we just wanted to give Alex an opportunity to play in that position. I think he did real well."

Sweden swept Group C, but it wasn't easy.

The Swedes began the tournament with an underwhelming 4-2 win against the Czech Republic before beating Switzerland 1-0 and allowing winless Latvia to hang around for so long.

With three days off before the quarterfinals, Sweden has some time to try and fix whatever isn't working and fine tune some areas of the team's game.

"I think we have to step it up big time before the next game," said center Patrik Berglund. "We haven't played well at all, I think. I think we struggled against Switzerland, and we struggled even more [Saturday]. They are really good teams but we got to play better, and we haven't. We've been winning the games, but we haven't played well."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 77 48 22 7 225 215 103
2 x - NSH 76 47 21 8 218 183 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
5 CHI 74 44 24 6 209 172 94
6 VAN 74 43 27 4 212 199 90
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
9 CGY 75 40 28 7 219 199 87
10 SJS 75 37 30 8 210 212 82
11 DAL 75 36 29 10 232 240 82
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 74 24 44 14 68
C. Perry 62 32 20 16 52
R. Kesler 77 19 27 -4 46
S. Vatanen 62 12 25 6 37
J. Silfverberg 76 12 23 12 35
P. Maroon 68 9 25 -3 34
C. Fowler 75 7 27 5 34
J. Wisniewski 65 8 25 -14 33
H. Lindholm 73 7 26 22 33
M. Beleskey 63 22 10 15 32
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 33 11 5 .914 2.40
J. Gibson 12 7 0 .914 2.65

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