BostonBruins.com - The men's Olympic hockey tournament kicked off on Wednesday, February 12 in Sochi, Russia, with Loui Eriksson and Sweden facing off against David Krejci and the Czech Republic.
Eriksson's squad came out on top with a 4-2 win at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
The Swedes had earned themselves a 4-0 lead thanks to two goals from Erik Karlsson, along with a tally each from Patrik Berglund and Henrik Zetterberg.
Eriksson, wearing No. 21 (a number once reserved for Peter Forsberg on the national team), played 18:37 in ice time, on a line with Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Backstrom. He had two shots and didn't get on the scoresheet but provided the screen in front on Karlsson's shot from the top of the slot that put them up, 4-0.
After averaging about five minutes each period through the first 40 minutes, he played a team-high 8:02 in the third period, and was robbed by Alexander Salak point-blank after a feed from behind the goal by Daniel Sedin.
The playing time came with the Swedes trying to put the clamp down on a Czech team that had fought back to make it a 4-2 game with back-to-back goals 2:11 apart in the second period.
At that point, a watch party back in Prague, Czech Republic (at Letná Park) could feel the fight coming on. The Czech Olympic team's official Twitter account posted a photo of the watch party, with the [translated] words, "The boys fight, the boys fight!"
Some may recall that it's that type of hockey spirit that got Krejci enthralled in the sport back when he was 11 years old, and watched Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic upset Canada and Russia to win gold at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He remembers fondly watching the team's reception in the streets of Prague.
The Czechs didn't quite complete the comeback, but showed hope with their ability to make it a two-goal game, thanks to tallies from Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky.
Krejci mostly skated with Ondrej Palat and Voracek during the game, until Ales Hemsky replaced Voracek on the wing.
The Bruins' center was 76-percent on the faceoff dot, with 19:36 in ice time (fourth highest on the team), and 9:13 of that time coming in the third period, as the Czechs were fighting back.
Both Krejci and Eriksson played fairly patient games, with their usual relentless backchecking, although they didn't create an abundance of chances offensively. And both, naturally, weren't afraid to go to the front of the net, even jousting with each other to gain positioning on one shift late in the third period.
With the Czechs trailing 4-2 in the third, they didn't pull their goaltender, but Krejci was tabbed as the one out there taking the faceoff against Henrik Zetterberg with just over one minute to play (both actually ended getting kicked out of the faceoff circle, likely a result of upping their competitive edge late in the game).
About a minute prior, Krejci skated into the zone and made a nifty move between his legs, before feeding Michael Frolik with space near the right faceoff circle. Henrik Lundqvist made the stop for Sweden, ultimately leading them to the win.
Krejci and the Czech Republic next face Latvia on Friday, February 14 (3:00 a.m. ET), while Eriksson and Team Sweden face Switzerland the same day at 7:30 ET.
NEXT UP: Finland, Slovakia, Canada
Thursday, February 13 is packed with three games featuring Bruins. The day starts off with Tuukka Rask backstopping Finland (he gets the starting nod for this one, with Kari Lehtonen as the backup) against Austria, live at 3:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (I'll be watching the game, and giving you all of the info, in case that's too early!)
Other games on tap:
-Chara/Slovakia vs United States at 7:30 a.m. ET (live on NBC Sports Network)
-Bergeron/Canada vs Norway at noon ET (live on USA Network)