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Sweden Won't be Overlooking Underdog Slovenia

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 6:00 PM / News
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Sweden Won\'t be Overlooking Underdog Slovenia
What\'s at stake: Slovenia will be looking to add to its improbable run at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, its first appearance in an Olympic hockey tournament. Sweden, meanwhile, will be looking to do what\'s expected of it and that is advance to the semifinals on the way to a third appearance on the medal podium in the six Olympics that have included NHL players.
By Sean McCullen | NHL.com

SLOVENIA vs. SWEDEN

When: Wednesday, 3 a.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN)

Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome

What's at stake: Slovenia will be looking to add to its improbable run at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, its first appearance in an Olympic hockey tournament. Sweden, meanwhile, will be looking to do what's expected of it and that is advance to the semifinals on the way to a third appearance on the medal podium in the six Olympics that have included NHL players.

Slovenia earned its first-ever Olympic win Saturday with a 3-1 victory against Slovakia, and then bounced back from a 5-1 loss to the United States on Sunday with a 4-0 victory against Austria in a qualification playoff game Tuesday. The latest win allowed Slovenia to advance to the quarterfinals of a major world hockey tournament for the first time.

Slovenia: Anze Kopitar, the lone current NHL player on the roster, got the team going against Austria. The Los Angeles Kings forward scored at 5:29 of the first period for a 1-0 lead and Slovenia never looked back.

"Three days ago they said it was the biggest win, against Slovakia, in Slovenian history," Slovenia's Sabahudin Kovacevic told the IIHF website. "But now, I think this one is the biggest."

Goalie Robert Kristan stopped all 30 shots he faced, including a post-to-post glove save on Austria forward Michael Grabner in the first period, to earn the shutout. He has allowed one goal in his past two starts.

Sweden: Despite losing three of their top forwards to injuries, including captain Henrik Zetterberg, the Swedes finished preliminary-round play unbeaten to earn the top seed heading into the quarterfinals.

Even after finishing with three regulation wins in the preliminary round, Sweden knows it has to be better if it's going to atone for its disappointing fifth-place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The players were not happy after a 5-3 win against Latvia on Saturday.

"The most important thing is we won our three games here," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "We took care of business. But I think facing a really good team in the quarterfinal we'll have to improve a lot."

The Swedes also can look to past upsets in the quarterfinal round, including a 2002 loss to Belarus, to know they can't overlook underdog Slovenia.

"I don't think I need to tell them anything about that after the group games we've had," said forward Daniel Alfredsson, who was on that 2002 team. "We are going to be the favorites, no doubt about that, so it's just about balancing our energy the right way.

"We can't focus on what we have to lose, but on what we can win."

What’s next: The winner will play in the semifinals Friday; the loser will go home. The semifinal opponent is yet to be determined, but will come from the winner of the quarterfinal game between Finland and Russia.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48
 

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