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Sweden Wins Big Over Latvia

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

February 18, 2006

TURIN, Italy (AP) - Peter Forsberg is back. Not surprisingly, so is Sweden.

Despite limited playing time because of a groin problem, Forsberg set up two goals in his first game of the Olympic men's hockey tournament, helping the Swedes rebound from a shutout loss with an easy 6-1 victory over Latvia on Saturday.

Forsberg assisted on Sweden's first and fourth goals, which were scored by Samuel Pahlsson and Per Johan Axelsson. Daniel Alfredsson scored twice, and Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg also scored as the Swedes (2-1) solidified their chances of reaching the quarter-finals - and sent a message that they may again be a strong medal contender.

Latvia (0-2-1) is making its tie against the United States look more and more like a fluke. Since then, the Latvians allowed four first-period goals in a 6-3 loss to Slovakia and five less than halfway through this game. It was 6-0 when Maris Ziedins beat Henriq Lundqvist midway through the final period for Latvia's lone goal.

Forsberg, the hero of Sweden's 1994 gold medal victory and part of the 1998 team, didn't look like someone who hadn't played in three weeks. He skated well and felt so comfortable he sometimes hopped the boards to the bench instead of using the door.

He drew a penalty on his first shift, then later in the first period stole the puck and fired a shot that goaltender Sergejs Naumovs sprawled to block, leaving Pahlsson an easy mop-up goal.

Later, Forsberg's great stickwork set Axelsson up with plenty of room for his goal.

Forsberg now has 12 assists and three goals in 13 career Olympic games.

Sweden broke the game open with three power-play goals early in the second period, the last two coming 18 seconds apart. Then Zetterberg scored a few minutes later, slowing the tempo of Latvia's drum-banging fans.

Naumovs replaced Arturs Irbe after his two starts and stopped 34 of 40 shots.

Lundqvist bounced back following a 5-0 loss to Russia, although it helped that he saw only two shots in the first period and 14 for the game.

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