Winter Olympics hockey results: Sweden's power play too much for Latvia

Martin Rose

On the strength of its power play, Sweden completed a sweep of Group C in pool play.

SB Nation 2014 Winter Olympic Coverage

With skilled puck-moving defensemen, lethal forwards and experience playing on international ice, Sweden is a team that, on paper, has the makings of an effective power play.

Consider the power play now effective in practice.

On the strength of four power play goals, Sweden closed out pool play in Group C by defeating Latvia 5-3 on Saturday.

Sweden found itself on their its power play late in the first period. With Erik Karlsson manning the point, he fired a shot that Patrik Berglund was able to deflect in the high slot through the legs of Kristers Gudlevskis to give the Swedes a 1-0 edge.

Latvia responded just under three minutes later with a tally of its own. Janis Sprukts gained the line, and then made a no-look pass to Lauris Darzins, who broke in alone on Henrik Lundqvist and was able to beat the Rangers goalie between his legs to tie the score at one heading into the first intermission.

Just 1:22 into the second period, Latvia put Sweden behind for the first time in the tournament. With a man-advantage, Sprutks deflected a shot-pass from Krisjanis Redlihs that beat Lundqvist high to the glove side, and put Latvia head 2-1.

But Sweden would keep getting power play chances, and keep converting them.

Only 1:23 after Latvia took the lead, Karlsson brought Sweden even. With the Swedes cycling the puck on a man advantage, the puck ended up on Karlsson's stick. Kaspars Daugavins was slow getting out to the Senators defenseman, and Karlsson had enough room to get off a slapper that beat Gudlevskis and tied the game at two.

Daniel Alfredsson gave Sweden its lead back late in the middle frame. After a great passing sequence (again on the power play), Alex Edler connected with Alfredsson on a cross-ice feed, and the 41-year-old made no mistake one-timing it into the back of the net for a 3-2 advantage.

Sweden capped off the second period scoring on yet another power play goal. With just 1:13 left in the frame, Jimmie Ericsson jumped over an Oliver Ekman-Larsson point shot. After it took a bounce off the end boards, Ericsson was able to jam home the loose puck in front for a 4-2 Sweden lead.

Latvia pulled within a goal in the third period, but Lundqvist and Sweden held off a Latvian rally, and a late Edler goal pushed Sweden's lead to to 5-3.

Lundqvist ended up with 17 saves, but the real story was Karlsson. He had a goal and an assist, and now has three goals and two assists in three tournament games.

Having swept Group C, Sweden can now finish no lower than second in the knockout seeding, as it awaits the result of Canada and Finland.

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