Gabriel Landeskog and Team Sweden clinched the Group C pool-play victory Friday morning with a 1-0 win against Switzerland, and Matt Duchene made his Olympic debut with Team Canada in a 6-0 rout of Austria.
The Avs are still perfect for Sochi, but that won’t be the case after tomorrow.
Two days remain in Preliminary Round play for the Avalanche players, but Paul Stastny and Team USA are set to play Russia and Colorado teammate Semyon Varlamov on Saturday in an anticipated early-tournament game (5:30 a.m. MT; CBC, NBCSN).
It’s the only game in the preliminaries that features Avs playing Avs.
Landeskog and Sweden will finish Group C play at 10 a.m. Saturday against Latvia (USA, SNET1), while the Russians, Americans and Canadians will wrap up Sunday—Russia takes on Slovakia (5:30 a.m.; USA, SNET), the USA has Slovenia (5:30 a.m., NBCSN), and Canada faces Finland (10 a.m.; CBC, USA).
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Landeskog had two shots in 19:07 Friday as the Swedes scored late in the third period to end Switerland’s 2014 Games shutout streak at just more than 112 minutes and earn the group win.
Sweden defeated the Czech Republic on Wednesday, so even if it was to lose in regulation Saturday to Latvia (leaving the regulation winner in the Switzerland-Czech Republic game in a tie with the Swedes at six points) it would own the first tiebreaker (head-to-head) for determining group position.
Landeskog, the Avalanche captain and Team Sweden alternate captain, finished even in plus-minus rating Friday as he and fellow team leaders Daniel Alfreddson (Red Wings) and Niklas Kronwall (Red Wings) worked to overcome the absence of Henrik Zetterberg (Red Wings), who will not play for the rest of the Olympics because of a herniated disk in his back, the Swedish Hockey Federation announced.
Landeskog, who had an assist Wednesday, is plus-two for the tournament with three total shots on goal in 34:23 of ice time.
He skated on a line Friday with the Blues’ Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen.
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Duchene was a healthy scratch for the Canadians on Thursday in their opening win against Norway, along with defenseman P.K. Subban (Canadiens), but Team Canada coach Mike Babcock (Red Wings) said he planned on using both today vs. Austria.
Babcock stuck to that, and Duchene took advantage with four shots and a plus-one rating in the win. Jeff Carter (Kings) stole headlines in the game with a natural hat trick, scoring three times in just less than 12 minutes of the second period.
Babcock will have another tough decision to make before Sunday’s game against Finland, which defeated Norway 6-1 Friday, setting up a first-place Group B showdown. Babcock told NHL.com after Friday’s game that Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks) and Dan Hamhuis (Canucks) would return to the lineup after sitting for Duchene and Subban.
"You tell an athlete who competed hard and did things right that he's not playing. That's no fun,” Babcock said. “If you're [Sharp], for example, you're a high-, high-end player. I grab him when he's walking in today to tell him that he's not playing, and he doesn't ask me why.
"It's good he didn't ask me why because I've got no reason why."
Duchene played alongside a pair of Anaheim Ducks in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and he was on the ice when Shea Weber (Predators) scored 10:12 into the game, giving Canada a 2-0 lead.
He took to Twitter after the game, celebrating a moment he’s been thinking of since he was a kid in Haliburton, Ontario.