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Sweden blanks Slovenia, 5-0
Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) earned his second shutout as he made 19 saves and led Sweden to a rout of Slovenia, 5-0. Lundqvist has been brilliant all tournament, boasting a 94.95% save percentage and a 1.25 goals allowed against for the Olympics.
Slovenia was able to keep it close, only trailing 1-0 after two periods despite being outshot 26 to 11. However, the Swedes were able to finally break loose with four goals in the final period, including two from Rangers winger Carl Hagelin.
Sweden’s Alexander Steen (St. Louis Blues) opened up the scoring with his first goal of the tournament on a power play late into the first period.
The Swedes were held scoreless in the second period, but they poured it on in the third. Sweden struck early with a Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks) goal at 1:42 to make it 2-0. Loui Eriksson (Boston Bruins) then scored his first of the tournament at 8:04. Hagelin rounded out the scoring with two of his own late in the third period.
The Slovenians will be going home, but their Olympic debut was exceedingly successful. Not many thought they would win a single game, let alone make the quarterfinals.
Sweden has been the most dominant Olympic team thus far. They are the only team to win all of their games in regulation and are out-scoring their opponents 15 to 5. Despite this, they seem to be the most overlooked team. With Canada and the United States gaining all the attention, the top seeded Swedes have stealthily cruised to the semifinals even without their best players in Johan Franzen, Henrik Sedin, and captain Henrik Zetterberg.
Sweden is seeking their third Olympic hockey gold medal in their history. They last won in 2006 in Torino, Italy against Finland.
Finland eliminates Hosts Russa, 3-1
Russia will not receive a medal in the third consecutive Olympics as their tournament lives came to a very disappointing halt. Despite being on home ice and having the crowd on their side, the Russians could not use it to their advantage and instead crumbled under the pressure as they fell to Finland 3-1.
Despite being ravaged with injuries to their top four centers, Finland did not let affect them. The hardest working team in the tournament have reached their third consecutive Olympic semifinals with the win. Going into the Sochi, the Finns were without Valtteri Filppula, Saku Koivu, and Mikko Koivu. Then, they lost their last top centerman, Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers) for the tournament due to a knee injury. Yet, Finland are one of the final four teams left.
They have relied on their goaltending, defense, and all around team work. Twelve different players have scored for Finland so far in this tournament. After a shaky debut, Tukka Rask of the Boston Bruins is back to his brilliant self. Rask was outstanding in his last start against Canada and was again when the Finns needed him the most, stopping 34 of 35 shots.
The speedy Mikael Granlund was a huge factor for the Finns as he contributed a goal and an assist. In addition, Finland's captain Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks) scored his second goal of the tournament and his 19th in his Olympic career.
Russia's perceived weakness before the tournament, their defense, finally did them in as two mistakes from their blue line cost them two goals.
Russia made a huge mistake starting Semyon Varlamov (Colorado Avalanche) over last season's Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets). Varlamov made 12 of 15 saves before being pulled for Bobrosvky in the second period.
Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) and Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) were invisible once again as they were held without a goal. Ovechkin and Malkin had a quiet and disappointing tournament overall with just two goals between them in five games.
Russia's Ilya Kovalchuck gave the hosts an early lead with his third goal of the tournament on the power play. But Finland would strike back quickly when Juhamatti Aaltonen made a nice move around Nikita Nikitin and beat Varlamov to tie it 1-1.
After a bouncing puck got past Russian defenseman Slava Voynov, Granlund used his lightning speed to catch up to Voynov and take the puck away. Granlund then skated towards goal and was able to find Selanne driving to the net with a pass. Selanne shot the puck through Varlamov's legs to give the Finns a 2-1 lead.
Finland got an insurance goal when they went on the power play early in the second period. After a soft shot from Selanne, Granlund was able to collect the rebound and backhand it behind Varlamov for his third goal of the tournament.
Bobrovsky made a few fantastic saves to keep the score at 3-1, but Russia offense could not find the two goals they desperately needed. Bobrosvky finished the game, stopping all 7 shots he faced.
With Finland heading to the semifinals, we will see a rematch of the 2006 Olympic gold medal game that Sweden won 3-2. Also, it will be a match-up of two premier goaltenders in Lundqvist and Rask. It should be an exciting battle and we will see who comes out on top.
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