Swedes shut down Germany 2-0 in Olympic opener
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:14 AM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
Teams are trained not to complain after shutout victories, so Sweden wasn't about to do that. However, it wasn't as if the defending gold medalists were busy celebrating Wednesday night's 2-0 win over Germany either.
"It shows that it is not going to be easy," Sweden captain Nicklas Lidstrom told NHL.com. "In a tournament like this, you are the favorite and you still have to battle hard for the points and the wins. It was good to realize that we have to battle to get the win."
Sweden expects to be a major factor in this Olympic tournament, while Germany is the lowest ranking team here. It would be a major stretch to say the roles were reversed for parts of the game, but German coach Uwe Krupp was the happier man at the press conference podium as he sat side-by-side with Sweden's Bengt-Ake Gustafsson.
Despite the shutout loss, Krupp ranked this as one of the best performances by the German national team since he took the job five years ago. Gustafsson seemed pleased to come away with a win, but said nobody in his lineup stood out.
"We had a tough game, a really tough team," Gustafsson said. "They were on us the whole time and didn't give us room or space to create anything. I believe there is more to come from this team, but we got a win today and that's what counts."
They got a win partly because they outplayed the Germans and got goals from Mattias Ohlund and Loui Eriksson in the second period -- but also because they got lucky.
With Sweden down two men for 69 seconds early in the second period, German defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, playing in his home building, rang a shot off the crossbar. The Swedes killed the 5-on-3 and shortly after Ohlund scored on a power-play goal.
"If they scored in that situation by having the chances they had, it could have been a different game," Gustafsson said. "We got the break we needed. Of course it would be a much tougher game if they get the lead."
Even Ohlund's goal, a slap shot from the right circle 4:29 into the second period, had some controversy attached to it. It appeared that in his attempt to leap out of the way of the shot, Daniel Sedin made contact with German goalie Thomas Greiss.
No penalty was called, so the goal stood. Krupp didn't even want to discuss the play.
"I think we can analyze this in a lot of different ways, but ultimately that doesn't make any difference," he said. "The goal counts and there is no replay on that or second guessing on it because the referee makes the decision. With that I feel it's a waste of my time to worry or comment on that goal.
"When you don't score a goal, which we didn't, then you don't win the game," he added.
Gustafsson said he didn't see it, and Ohlund wasn't complaining.
"I'm not going to score if Daniel is not in front of the net," Ohlund told NHL.com.
Eriksson made it 2-0 nearly 10 minutes later, and Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period to preserve his shutout.
Lundqvist, who made 21 saves, was happy that he saw a lot of rubber in the Olympic opener. Unlike Finland's Miikka Kiprusoff and Canada's Roberto Luongo, who both went long stretches without seeing any pucks, Lundqvist was sweating early and late.
The Germans peppered him with the first five shots of the game. They managed only three shots in the second period, but came back to outshoot the Swedes 11-9 in their effort to tie the game in the third.
"You have to have the mindset going into the game that it's not going to be easy," Lundqvist told NHL.com. "It's not like 10 years ago when these teams, you could have a 6-0 lead in the first. Their goaltending is a lot better and they are pretty solid as a team. I think the mindset has to be good from the start and then you don't stress about it."
Gustafsson though part of Sweden's problem in putting away the Germans was their shift lengths. Just like Canada's Mike Babcock and USA's Ron Wilson did Tuesday, Gustafsson tried to spread the ice time evenly amongst his 20 skaters.
They all played at least 10 minutes with Ohlund leading the way at 20:17. He was the only player to play more than 20 minutes, but Eriksson, Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Tallinder and Daniel Sedin all averaged more than one minute per shift while Henrik Sedin, Mattias Weinhandl and Daniel Alfredsson were at 57 seconds per shift.
Gustafsson said those shifts are too long and as a result it hurt Sweden's tempo.
"We have a lot of guys that are used to playing a lot of ice time, but I really wanted to get everybody involved today by using all 20 players," he said. "We have to be better at that in the next game coming up here. I don't think anybody really stuck out."
Against Germany that didn't matter. As the tournament continues, that can't happen.
"I thought we were a little bit sloppy, turnovers in our own zone," Lidstrom said. "These are things you can't have against good teams because they are going to capitalize on them."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org
0 2 0 - 2
0 0 0 - 0
- Muller GER (hooking) 16:05, Weinhandl SWE (holding stick) 16:36, Kronwall SWE (holding) 19:40.
1. SWE, Ohlund (Enstrom, Weinhandl) 4:29 (PPG)
2. SWE, Eriksson (Backstrom) 14:13
- Oduya SWE (checking from behind -- served by M Weinhandl, misconduct) :32, Muller GER (boarding -- served by T Greilinger, misconduct) 3:12, Butenschon GER (tripping) 5:43, Enstrom SWE (holding) 10:12, Ficenec GER (holding) 18:28.
- Holzer GER (holding) 6:35, Felski GER (hooking) 19:30.
SHOTS ON GOAL
6 10 9 - 21
7 3 11 - 21
(goals-shots against) - SWE: Lundqvist (W, 0-21); GER: Greiss (L, 2-25).
(goals-chances) - SWE: 1-4; GER: 0-6.