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Sweden Holds off Latvia for Third Straight Win

Saturday, 02.15.2014 / 1:37 PM / 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 ANA 50 32 12 6 147 134 70
2 NSH 48 31 11 6 145 115 68
3 STL 48 31 13 4 156 117 66
4 CHI 49 31 16 2 155 113 64
5 WPG 50 26 16 8 140 127 60
6 SJS 49 26 17 6 137 135 58
7 VAN 47 27 17 3 129 120 57
8 CGY 49 26 20 3 140 127 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 COL 50 21 18 11 131 141 53
11 DAL 48 22 19 7 152 157 51
12 MIN 48 22 20 6 131 138 50
13 ARI 48 17 25 6 111 161 40
14 EDM 49 13 27 9 113 162 35

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 49 15 35 7 50
C. Perry 35 19 13 13 32
R. Kesler 50 13 19 -3 32
S. Vatanen 50 10 20 3 30
M. Beleskey 49 19 7 11 26
P. Maroon 42 6 19 1 25
C. Fowler 49 5 18 2 23
H. Lindholm 49 5 16 12 21
J. Silfverberg 50 6 13 2 19
R. Rakell 39 5 12 2 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 27 7 5 .918 2.27
J. Gibson 2 2 0 .927 2.28

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