Feb 12, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
A four-goal hole proved too much for the Czech Republic to dig out of on Wednesday, as it dropped a 4-2 decision to Sweden in the tournament opener for both teams.
The Swedes scored four times in the game’s first 21 minutes and withstood a spirited Czech reply to earn all three points. Tre Kronor’s dynamic defensive pair of Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson led the way, combining for four points — two goals from Karlsson, two assists from Ekman-Larsson — while team captain Henrik Zetterberg scored what proved to be the game-winner just 51 seconds into the second period.
The Czechs, widely criticized for roster selections heading into Sochi, made a series of head-scratching decisions prior to today’s game that left many wondering how much it affected the outcome. Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec didn’t start — heck, he didn’t even dress — as the Czechs opted to go with KHL netminder Jakub Kovar, who was hooked after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
Kovar was replaced by Alexander Salak, who played well in stopping 14 of 15 shots faced.
In other eyebrow-raising choices, the Czechs scratched Phoenix center Martin Hanzal from the lineup and distributed ice time in bizarre fashion. Forward Ales Hemsky and Ladislav Smid didn’t play a single shift in the opening frame — Smid ended up with zero ice time, Hemsky finished with just 6:58. Ottawa forward Milan Michalek was also sparsely used, getting just 6:46 TOI.
That said, the Czechs did turn it on after falling behind 4-0. The team threw several shots towards Lundqvist in the final frame, but the Swedish netminder stood tall, stopping all 17 shots faced in the third. Lundqvist finished with 27 saves on 29 shots overall.
Notes: Sweden was the only team to capitalize on the man advantage, as Karlsson’s second goal of the game came on the power play… Zidlicky played the most of any player, earning 26:56 TOI… Alex Steen led all Swedish skaters with 19:27.
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 9
- Devils post-Martin Brodeur era about to truly start 1
- Report: Rangers expected to announce captain on Thursday 10
- Snider: Flyers not hiding behind ‘horrible mistake’ of signing Bryzgalov 18
- P.K. Subban: ‘I’m not trying to change the game of hockey’ 21
- Demand for Canucks tickets plummeting according to broker 36
- Report: Johansen, Blue Jackets talking contract 7
- NHL waiting on World Cup announcement, Olympics decision 9
- Leiweke calls out ‘just terrible’ character of certain players in Leafs organization 30
- Crosby: Pens must ‘find a way to get over that hump’ 13
- Will future tweaks be enough to salvage NHL 15? (50)
- This Darcy Kuemper-Minnesota Wild situation doesn’t sound good (40)
- Boychuk doesn’t want to be traded, but has no control over the matter (39)
- Demand for Canucks tickets plummeting according to broker (39)
- The KHL’s really trying to mow Minnesota’s lawn (38)