Team Sweden, ranked #1 going into the playoff round, had an automatic seat in the quarterfinals. Team Slovenia on the other hand, they earned their way in with a 4-0 win over Austria just yesterday. The two teams took to the ice at the Bolshoy Ice Dome to see who would move onto the semifinals, puck drop was at noon local Sochi time, 3:00 AM EST.
The Slovenians, as has been their personality throughout their Olympic debut, made their opponent work for everything, especially in the first two periods. But playing its third game in four days, Slovenia started to show a bit of wear and tear as the game progressed.
The quote above says it all. The Slovenians have been a surprise team in Sochi during these Olympics, most would have said they wouldn’t win a game in the preliminary round, let alone make it to the quarterfinals.
The Slovenians held the Swedes off the scoreboard for most of the first period, it wasn’t until Alexander Steen scored on the power play in the final minutes of the period that Sweden took the lead. Jan Mursak took a high sticking penalty which led to the man advantage for Sweden, and they capitalized to take a 1-0 lead into the second period. Team Sweden out-shot Team Slovenia 10-6 in the first period.
The second period came and went with no goals scored, three minor penalties, and the Swedes heavily out-shooting Slovenia,16-5. Slovenian netminder Robert Kristan was certainly keeping the game interesting, only being down 1-0 to Sweden after two periods is quite an accomplishment on its own. Henrik Lundqvist was still perfect on the other end, stopping all 11 of the Slovenian shots.
Sweden came out swinging in the final period, unleashing a fury of goals on the Slovenians. Daniel Sedin started the scoring off just 1 minute and 42 seconds into the third period – assisted by Loui Eriksson. Around ten minutes later the Swedes added two more to their tally, making it 4-0 – Loui Eriksson and Carl Hagelin found the back of the net. With under four minutes remaining in the game, and Sweden in cruise control, Carl Hagelin scored his second goal of the night. That would end the quarterfinal match-up, Sweden dominated the third period, and paved their way into the semifinals.
Slovenia deserves credit, if not for this game, than for their overall performance in the Olympics. They made some noise as an underdog, but were unfortunately shut down by Sweden. Goaltender Robert Kristan faced 38 shots, making 33 saves. Henrik Lundqvist had a perfect game, stopping all 19 shots.
The Swedes move into the semifinals, where they will play the winner of Finland vs Russia – the semifinals are set to start on the 21st.