Sweden Shuts out Slovenia to Reach Semifinals

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 4:00 AM PT / News
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Sweden Shuts out Slovenia to Reach Semifinals
SOCHI -- Sweden advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics men\'s ice hockey tournament, as expected. The journey through the quarterfinal, against the upstarts from Slovenia, to the final four was more difficult than anticipated.
By Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com

SOCHI -- Sweden advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics men's ice hockey tournament, as expected. The journey through the quarterfinal, against the upstarts from Slovenia, to the final four was more difficult than anticipated.

Sweden, the top seed after a perfect preliminary round, defeated Slovenia 5-0 on Wednesday at Bolshoy Ice Dome in the first quarterfinal. Sweden needed four third-period goals to pull away.

"This tournament, when it comes down to just one game, it's tough," Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "You need everything to work for you.

"Like today, they hang around for two periods and you never know if it can be a different game. You just need to play your best and have that little extra luck in these types of games by working hard.

"This was a game we had to win. We didn't expect to go easy and it didn't, until the end. Up until then, it was a big fight out there."

Sweden will face the winner of the Russia-Finland game played later Wednesday.

The Swedes parlayed being the top seed into the advantage they needed in the third period. One of four teams to move directly into the quarterfinals, Sweden held a short practice Tuesday and rested. Slovenia had to play a qualification-round game against Austria.

Slovenia won that game 4-0, but paid a hefty price for the effort. The Swedes blew open what had been a taut game for the first 41 minutes when Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson scored 6:22 apart in the third period, and Carl Hagelin added two goals in the latter half.

"Our team got really tired as the game went on, so it was hard to play," Slovenia forward Jan Mursak said. "The third period was a total disaster. I think the guys stopped playing while Sweden was just tighter all over the ice. There was nothing we could do."

The Swedish players said they were banking on the fundamentally sound Slovenians losing their work rate as the game progressed.

Hints of that appeared when Alexander Steen scored a power-play goal with 70 seconds left in the first period, but the intermission allowed Slovenia to regroup and hold steady despite being outshot 16-5 in the second. Slovenian goalie Robert Kristan, so good all tournament, was sensational in the period; he finished this game with 33 saves.

However, when Sedin scored 1:42 into the third period, the wheels fell off for Slovenia. Sweden, like any good medal contender, pounced.

"When we got that second goal, we knew they had played the night before and, usually, when you play the night before, you are going to have a strong start to the game, but if you don't get a goal you are going to feel the energy go away," Hagelin said. "After we scored that second goal, it felt like they didn't have much left. We did play a lot stronger and better on the puck in the third."

Eriksson, who assisted on Sedin's goal, scored to make it 3-0 at 8:04.

Making its Olympic hockey debut, Slovenia displayed a solidarity, work ethic and commitment to fundamentals throughout the tournament that kept it competitive in each game. The Slovenians played the United States and Russia tough in losses, defeated Slovakia in pool play, and handled Austria to book passage to the quarterfinals.

"It's definitely a disappointing feeling right now," said Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Slovenia's only NHL player. "We felt that we could maybe surprise another team, but it didn't happen today.

"We're very proud of this team. We've had a [heck] of a tournament, and we've got to be very happy with the results."

Sweden is not happy yet. It has designs on more than a semifinal appearance; it wants to play for the gold medal. A dominant final 20 minutes Wednesday, combined with a competent first two periods, has put them in position to do so with a team capable of beating anybody.

Lundqvist, of the New York Rangers, has two shutouts in this tournament after making 19 saves Wednesday. The defense is experienced and mobile, and the power play is potent.

Sweden's winning goal Wednesday came on the power play. At the time it was scored, five of Sweden's six most-recent goals had been scored with the man-advantage. The Swedes have 14 goals here, six on the power play.

"We have a couple more notches, I think, where we can elevate our game a little bit," Steen said. "We'll look to do so in the semis."

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 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
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 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 CGY 76 41 28 7 224 201 89
9 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 75 37 30 8 210 212 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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