Dan Rosen - NHL.com Staff Writer
|Dennis Seidenberg and Henrik Sedin battle for the puck. Sweden earned the 2-0 victory over Germany in the first game of the Olympics for both teams (Getty Images).
VANCOUVER -- The defending Olympic gold medalists had to play a survival game against the lowest-seeded team in the tournament to pull out a win in their pool play opener.
Germany gave Sweden all it could handle Wednesday night at Canada Hockey Place, but Tre Kronor got goals from Mattias Ohlund and Loui Eriksson, plus 21 saves from goalie Henrik Lundqvist to come away with a hard-fought 2-0 victory.
It was the first Olympic shutout for Sweden in 16 years, since Tommy Salo blanked Germany in the 1994 quarterfinals.
Sweden next plays Friday afternoon against Belarus, which lost 5-1 Finland earlier in the day. Germany plays the Finns after the Sweden-Belarus game.
After a scoreless first period, Sweden took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission on goals by Ohlund and Eriksson.
Ohlund, who played 11 seasons in Vancouver until moving to Tampa this season, put Sweden on the board with a power-play goal at 4:29 off a blistering slap shot from the left circle that found its way into the far corner of the net.
The Swedes, though, may have gotten lucky because it appeared that Vancouver's own Daniel Sedin made contact with German goalie Thomas Greiss in front of the net as he was leaping to avoid the shot. But no call was made, and the goal stood.
The goal came after Sweden killed off a 5-on-3 for 69 seconds with both defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Johnny Oduya in the box.
Kronwall went off for holding with 19 seconds left in the first period, and 32 seconds into the second Oduya needlessly rammed Marco Sturm
into the end wall behind Lundqvist and was called for boarding. Under international rules, he also received a 10-minute misconduct for a hit to the head.
Perhaps in retaliation, German forward Marcel Muller was called for boarding at 3:12 -- and also received a 10-minute misconduct for a hit to the head. Ohlund ripped the shot past Greiss while Thomas Greilinger served Muller's minor.
Eriksson has linemates Nicklas Backstrom and Daniel Alfredsson to thank for his goal at 14:13.
Alfredsson canceled out Alexander Sulzer in the corner, freeing the puck to Backstrom, who made a move to dart to the net before sliding the puck across the crease to Eriksson. He slammed the puck into the open net.
The Germans took it to the Swedes early by getting the first five shots on goal, but Sweden got six of the last eight in the first period and were outshooting the Germans 16-10 after two. Germany had just three shots in the second period and went 0-for-3 on the power play.
Sweden had some chances midway through the first period, but Greiss, Evgeni Nabokov's backup in San Jose, was up to the challenge. Greiss made a particularly solid save on Nicklas Lidstrom's deflection about 9:20 into the period.
Kronwall had the biggest hit of the tournament thus far just 4:15 into the game when he lined up German forward Michael Wolf and crushed him just inside the blue line in German's defensive zone.
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com
SWE 0 2 0 - 2
GER 0 0 0 - 0
Penalties - Muller GER (hooking) 16:05, Weinhandl SWE (holding stick) 16:36, Kronwall SWE (holding) 19:40.
1. SWE, Ohlund (Enstrom, Weinhandl) 4:29 (PPG)
2. SWE, Eriksson (Backstrom) 14:13
Penalties - Oduya SWE (checking from behind -- served by M Weinhandl, misconduct) :32, Muller GER (boarding -- served by T Greilinger, misconduct) 3:12, Butenschon GER (tripping) 5:43, Enstrom SWE (holding) 10:12, Ficenec GER (holding) 18:28.
Penalties - Holzer GER (holding) 6:35, Felski GER (hooking) 19:30.
SHOTS ON GOAL
SWE 6 10 9 - 21
GER 7 3 11 - 21
Goaltenders (goals-shots against) - SWE: Lundqvist (W, 0-21); GER: Greiss (L, 2-25).
Power plays (goals-chances) - SWE: 1-4; GER: 0-6.