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U.S. meets Sweden Sunday needing at least a point

NHL.com @NHL

Disappointing continues to be the word to describe the United States men's hockey team at the Turin Games.

After dropping a game to one of the tournament's two unbeaten teams, the United States looks to strengthen its hopes for a spot in the quarterfinals when it takes the ice Sunday against medal-favorite Sweden.

The U.S. starts play in fourth place in Group B, two points ahead of Latvia but just one point behind Sweden and Russia. The Americans and Russians meet Tuesday in the final preliminary-round game.

The top four teams in each pool advance to the quarterfinals starting Wednesday.

The Americans suffered their first loss of the Olympics with a 2-1 defeat Saturday to unbeaten Slovakia.

Brian Rolston's power-play goal with 1:36 to play in the second period lifted the U.S. into a 1-1 tie. But Rick DiPietro gave up what proved to be the game-winner to Peter Bondra 1:48 into the third period.

"It's a disappointing outcome again, like the first game, but I thought we played well," captain Chris Chelios said. "That's a good team."

The United States outshot the Slovaks 31-20, but fell to 1-1-1 in preliminary-round play.

"We wanted to play with passion and excitement, and we did that," Chelios said. "We could have very well have won the game. We played well enough to win."

Team USA opened the Olympics with a lackluster 3-3 tie Wednesday against Latvia. The Americans then got their lone win Thursday, 4-1 over Kazakhstan.

Against the Slovaks, though, many American drives either sailed off the mark or were blocked before reaching goalie Peter Budaj, a backup with the Colorado Avalanche. Even worse, the rebounds left in front were often missed by U.S. forwards.

"We just can't convert our chances," Chelios said. "We had the puck up the middle of the ice a lot, and didn't get anything to show for it."

Sweden begins play two points behind Slovakia, who it will face in its final preliminary-round game on Tuesday.

The Swedes bounced back from being shut out Thursday by Russia with a 6-1 rout Saturday over Latvia.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Peter Forsberg, making his Turin Games debut, had two assists. He was eased back into the Swedish lineup because of a slow-healing groin injury that has limited him to 42 NHL games in his first season with Philadelphia.

"First period, I got a little tired. Other than that, I felt good," said Forsberg, who led Sweden to gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Games and now has three goals and 12 assists in 13 career Olympic contests.

With the score tied 1-1 after one period, the Swedes broke open the game with three power-play goals by Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson and P.J. Axelsson in a 2:55 span.

Henrik Zetterberg added a goal midway through the second period. Alfredsson scored his second of the game early in the third.

Alfredsson, the leading scorer on the Ottawa Senators, also leads Sweden with three goals. Axelsson and Samuel Pahlsson are among 13 other players tied with three points each.

New York Rangers rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist needed to make just 14 saves in the win over Latvia after giving up five goals in the loss to Russia.

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