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 ANA 76 47 22 7 222 213 101
2 NSH 75 46 21 8 214 180 100
3 STL 74 46 21 7 226 182 99
4 CHI 73 44 23 6 207 167 94
5 MIN 74 42 25 7 211 183 91
6 VAN 74 43 27 4 212 199 90
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 LAK 74 37 23 14 199 184 88
9 CGY 74 40 27 7 217 195 87
10 DAL 74 36 28 10 232 236 82
11 SJS 74 36 30 8 207 210 80
12 COL 74 34 28 12 200 206 80
13 EDM 74 21 40 13 177 254 55
14 ARI 75 23 44 8 158 249 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 73 24 44 14 68
C. Perry 61 32 20 16 52
R. Kesler 76 19 27 -5 46
S. Vatanen 61 12 25 7 37
J. Silfverberg 75 12 23 11 35
P. Maroon 67 9 24 -4 33
C. Fowler 74 7 26 3 33
H. Lindholm 73 7 26 22 33
J. Wisniewski 64 8 24 -14 32
M. Beleskey 62 22 9 14 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 32 11 5 .913 2.41
J. Gibson 12 7 0 .914 2.65

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