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Olympic Men's Hockey: Sweden defeats Czech Republic, 4-2

by Photo of Gil Santos

Erik Karlsson’s two goals leads Sweden past the Czech Republic.

Olympic Men's Hockey: Sweden defeats Czech Republic, 4-2

Sweden jumped to a 4-0 lead early and it was more than enough to defeat the Czech Republic in their opening game of the men's hockey portion of the Winter Olympics.

Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson, of the Ottawa Senators, put on a show in his first Olympic game, scoring two goals with his deadly slap shot in the first and second periods.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two assists and net minder Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) stopped 27 of 29 shots for the Swedes.

The Czechs' starting goaltender Jakob Kovar was pulled for Alexander Salak early in the second period after allowing 3 goals on just 10 shots. Kovar was surprisingly named the starter over Winnipeg Jets’ Ondrej Pavelec, who was scratched for the game.

Karlsson opened up the scoring with a blast from the blue line that beat Kovar during a delayed penalty at 10:47. The Swedes scored again less than three minutes later when center Patrick Berglund's slap shot made it past Kovar to give them a 2-0 lead.

Fifty-one seconds into the second period, Sweden increased their lead to 3-0 with a goal from their captain Henrik Zetteberg (Detroit Red Wings), which forced Kovar's exit. Karlsson added Sweden's final tally of the game with a power play goal at 4:07 on a one-timer set up by Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals).

The Czechs scored their two lone goals in the second period, both by members of the New Jersey Devils. Marek Zidlicky blasted it into the net after a set-up from Devils teammate Patrik Elias. And Jaromir Jagr had a nifty goal, sliding the puck past Lundqvist one-handed.

Both teams will be back in action on Friday when Sweden takes on Switzerland while the Czechs face Latvia. Sweden showed it still has plenty of offensive firepower even without the injured forwards Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen. Their offensive capabilities, combined with the skills of Lundqvist in net, are why the Swedes are still one of the favorites to medal in this tournament behind Canada and Russia.

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