BELARUS vs. SWEDEN
The defending Olympic hockey champions are playing like it right now against Belarus.
Goals from Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson has the Swedes, who are looking to avenge one of the biggest upsets of the NHL’s Olympic era, a 6-5 loss to Belarus in the quarter-finals at the 2002 Games, up 2-0 on Belarus after 20 minutes.
Daniel’s goal, which opened the scoring 6:40 into the period, was scored off his own rebound in front of Belarus’ Andrei Mezin. Brother Henrik picked up the first assist giving the twins two early points in what could be a big win for Sweden.
The arena is a bit flat this morning, nothing compared to last night in Slovakia’s upset over Russia.
Alfredsson’s dad was front and centre before the game as he was interviewed on the jumbotron (is there such thing as a regular tron?). Anyways, the Alfredsson clan, eight strong, is sitting in the exact same row, same seats, same everything, as the Kesler’s were Thursday. Conspiracy?
Tre Kronor isn’t skating Belarus off the ice as expected.
Sweden and Belarus swapped goals in a mundane second period, starting with a Johan Franzen score off a nifty pass from Samuel Pahlsson, who carried the puck around the net before setting up Franzen.
Looking for more, the Sedins and linemate Mattias Weinhandl got in on the action. The familiarity of that threesome is really beginning to shine through as no-look passes were coasting left and right.
Sweden failed to extend its lead, however, as Belarus instead hit the scoreboard with a late power play goal.
During a scramble in the Swedish crease, Dmitri Meleshko got enough of the puck to send it pinballing over Jonas Gustavsson, who was on his back in the crease.
’The Monster,’ who got the start in place of Henrik Lundqvist, recovered with two solid stops before the period was through to keep the score 3-1 for Sweden.
Still not a lot of action from the fans in the stands. Here I thought Swedish fans were intense. Maybe it’s like 6 a.m. in Sweden or something and their internal clocks are off. Who knows.
That’s what Belarus proclaimed with a goal 11:33 into the third period to cut Sweden’s lead to 3-2.
Off an Aleksandr Kulakov point shot, Meleshko was left unguarded by Swedish defender Johnny Oduya allowing him to put the eight ball in the corner pocket.
Twenty seconds later Belarus came rushing down the ice again with Konstantin Zakharov ringing a shot off the crossbar. Close, but no cigar.
The now back and forth game was almost decided with four minutes to play when Daniel set up Henrik for an open-net one-timer. A defender impeded his shot causing a misfire to maintain Belarus’ comeback chances.
Daniel Alfredsson snuffed the comeback attempt with a goal with 10 seconds left in the game.
Game over. Sweden wins 4-2.
This was easily the best period as far as fan involvement is concerned as Canada Hockey Place came to life after Belarus scored. In the blink of an eye the Belarus supporters went from here for a good time to here to win and their chants displayed that.
More to follow after I get the goods from the Sedins.
Click here for Daniel and Henrik's views on the game and their desire to face Canada for gold