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Sweden Shuts out Slovenia to Reach Semifinals

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 7:00 AM / 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 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

STATS

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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