The first day of the marquee Men’s Olympic hockey tournament kicked off Wednesday with all 4 teams from Group C in action. Here is a quick breakdown of the action:
SWEDEN 4, CZECH REPUBLIC 2
The surprising decisions of the Czech Republic management and coaches didn’t pay off as making goalie Ondrej Pavelec a healthy scratch backfired. As I said in my game preview for this one, it was as if the Czechs were conceding the group to Sweden and saving Pavelec for the more winnable games against the Latvians and Swiss.
Erik Karlsson scored twice, each time being the first one against one of the Czech goalies. He opened the scoring in the Olympic tournament just after the 10 minute mark of the first period, blasting a shot through traffic and past Jakub Kovar. Patrick Berglund doubled the lead just over 3 minutes later, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson assisting on both goals. Kovar didn’t last for the first minute of the second, being replaced by Alexander Salak after Henrik Zetterberg had made it 3-0. Karlsson’s second of the game was the nail in the coffin, coming before the 5 minute mark of the frame. Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr scored goals less than 2 minutes apart before the game was half over, but they could get no closer and Henrik Lundqvist held them at bay for the final 30 minutes and the regulation win.
SWITZERLAND vs LATVIA
The Latvians put up quite a fight and both goalies were perfect for 59 minutes and 53 seconds in a duel, but with just 7 seconds remaining it was Simon Moser taking a feed from Mark Streit and knocking it past Edgars Masalskis for the game winning goal. Masalskis made 38 saves in a great effort, while Jonas Hiller was less busy, needing to stop only 21 Latvian shots for the first shutout of the Games.
Group C now has Sweden and Switzerland tied atop the group with 3 points apeice, and they will play each other on Friday in what will likely determine who will take first place in the pool and the automatic quarterfinal berth that goes along with it.