SOCHI -- Switzerland's impenetrable wall was felled by a feather.
After going more than 112 minutes without allowing a goal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Detroit Red Wings veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson scored with 7:21 remaining in the third period to help Sweden defeat Switzerland 1-0 and assume control of Group C.
|Marcus Johansson plays for Sweden in the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group C game on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics |
Sweden struggled to find a way to generate great offensive chances, but Swiss goalie Reto Berra gifted them one that Alfredsson converted. Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson lofted a soft shot from near the right wall toward the net, but Berra muffed it and Alfredsson was there at the edge of the crease to pounce on the rebound.
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Swedes, who will earn the top spot in the group and a bye to the quarterfinals by not losing in regulation Sunday to winless Latvia.
Switzerland's defensive discipline kept Sweden from many threatening chances in the opening 40 minutes. The Swiss structure was compact and positionally sound, keeping the Swedes far from Berra and keeping them in position to block lots of long-range attempts.
Sweden was able to control the puck for stretches of the first period, but finding a way through the Swiss defense was another matter. Switzerland ended up outshooting the Swedes 13-5 in the period despite having the puck less often with plenty of counterattacking hockey. Lundqvist definitely had more tough saves to make for Sweden than his counterpart Berra of the Calgary Flames in the opening 20 minutes.
The Swedes had better control in the second period, but although more shots found their way to Berra, most were still from the perimeter.
Switzerland's defensive acumen in this tournament is now well-established. The Swiss shut out Latvia in their opening game, scoring a goal with 7.9 seconds left to win 1-0. Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller made 21 saves in that game, but coach Scott Simpson opted for Berra in this contest against the favorites in the group.
Sweden was already short Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen for the tournament because of injury, but it was dealt another big blow before the game Friday. Captain Henrik Zetterberg, who holds the same position for the Detroit Red Wings, will not play for the rest of the Olympics because of a herniated disk in his back, the Swedish Hockey Federation announced.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland also told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that Zetterberg is not likely to be ready when the NHL season commences.
Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues replaced Zetterberg on a line with Colorado Avalanche wing Gabriel Landeskog and NHL teammate Alexander Steen, and forward Marcus Johansson, who has mostly played on the wing the past two seasons for the Washington Capitals, replaced Berglund on a line with Detroit's Gustav Nyquist and Alfredsson.