The combination of playing three games in four days and a lack of depth turned out to be too much for Slovenia as its magical ride at the 2014 Olympic hockey tournament came to an end on Wednesday in a 5-0 loss to Sweden.
Sweden, which is now guaranteed to play for a medal, moves on to the semifinal round where it will it face the winner of the Russia-Finland game.
Slovenia, as it had done for pretty much the entire tournament, managed to keep it close through 40 minutes as an Alexander Steen power-play goal was the only difference in the game heading into the final period. It was there that the floodgates opened for Sweden as it finally broke through on Slovenia goalie Robert Kristan by scoring four goals in the final period to pull away and hand Slovenia its worst loss of the tournament.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 19 shots he faced to record his fourth Olympic shutout for Sweden, and outside of a handful of chances was rarely tested by a Slovenia team that not only looked overmatched toward the end of the game, but also physically exhausted.
The Slovenians didn't have anywhere near the jump they had earlier in the tournament, and even Anze Kopitar, their lone NHL player, didn't seem to be himself. Slovenia had leaned on him heavily throughout the tournament, giving him as many minutes as he could handle and more. It seemed to finally catch up to him as he struggled to find any open space or create any quality changes.
Kopitar finished with two goals and an assist in the five games and was one of the best players in the tournament, helping lead Slovenia to a pair of wins in its first ever Olympic appearance.
Considering where the team came from and the limited talent pool it had to choose from, it was one of the most surprising performances in recent Olympic history. Slovenia finished 2-3 and, before getting blown out on Wednesday, had only been outscored by one goal while playing a pretty tough schedule against Russia, the United States, Slovakia and Austria.