Another day of Olympic hockey from Sochi is in the books.
Friday’s action clearly separated the haves (Canada and Finland) from the have-nots (Austria and Norway) in Group B, but the games did little to clear up the picture in Group C.
Few will argue that Sweden is Group C’s top team, but the Swedes were pushed to the limit by a Switzerland squad that can’t score, but also seemingly can’t be scored on.
A Sweden offense that was already hurting without injured stars Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen was dealt another blow with the announcement shortly before puck drop that Henrik Zetterberg will miss the remainder of the Olympics, but a third-period goal by Daniel Alfredsson and a 26-save shutout from Henrik Lundqvist were enough to push them past the upset-minded Swiss, 1-0. Switzerland has allowed just one goal through two game in Sochi.
Canada had a much easier time dispatching of its second opponent, cruising to a 6-0 victory over Austria thanks to a Jeff Carter hat trick.
Friday was also a breeze for Finland, which overwhelmed Norway 6-1. A power-play goal early in the third was the only blemish for Finnish goalie Kari Lehtonen, who finished with 20 saves in his first Olympic start.
The Czech Republic was tested early by Latvia, but a second-period goal by Jakub Voracek broke a 2-2 tie and ended being the game-winner in an eventual 4-2 victory.
Jeff Carter, Winger, Canada
Carter’s three goals ended up being gravy for Canada, but his natural hat trick — the first in the Olympics since 1988 and Canada’s first since 1956 — was impressive nonetheless, especially considering he had been buried on the depth chart after a subpar effort against Norway.
Henrik Lundqvist, Goalie, Sweden
The battered Swedes will need their top goaltender to be at the top of his game if they are to have any chance of fulfilling their gold-medal aspirations, and he certainly was on Friday. Lundqvist shut down a number of solid Swiss scoring chances in the shutout, including one shot he knocked away with his face.
Teemu Selanne, Winger, Finland
After having to leave Thursday’s win over Austria with a neck injury, The Finnish Flash scored the first of Finland’s six goals against Norway, and, in the process, became the oldest player ever to score an Olympic goal.
Jaromir Jagr, Winger, Czech Republic
Speaking of old players, Jagr tied his Olympic personal best for goals with a tally in the final minute of the first period. He’s now scored twice in two games in Sochi, and he followed up Friday’s win with the quote of the tournament so far:
“I don’t get old, man. I am alive. God help me.”
Updated Preliminary Round Standings
|1||USA||1||1||0||0||0||7 : 1||3|
|2||RUS||1||1||0||0||0||5 : 2||3|
|3||SLO||1||0||0||0||1||2 : 5||0|
|4||SVK||1||0||0||0||1||1 : 7||0|
|1||FIN||2||2||0||0||0||14 : 5||6|
|2||CAN||2||2||0||0||0||9 : 1||6|
|3||NOR||2||0||0||0||2||2 : 9||0|
|4||AUT||2||0||0||0||2||4 : 14||0|
|1||SWE||2||2||0||0||0||5 : 2||6|
|2||CZE||2||1||0||0||1||6 : 6||3|
|3||SUI||2||1||0||0||1||1 : 1||3|
|4||LAT||2||0||0||0||2||2 : 5||0|
Four games are on tap for Saturday, but by far the most compelling is U.S.-Russia (7:30 a.m. ET), which will likely determine the winner of Group A. The Americans rolled to a 7-1 win over Slovakia on Thursday while the Russians were met with surprising resistance from an upstart Slovenia team before pulling away for a 5-2 win. Both teams are incredibly deep, but Russia has home-ice advantage on its side in what is the marquee matchup of the games so far.
Also in action: Slovakia-Slovenia (3 a.m.), Latvia-Sweden (noon), Czech Republic-Switzerland (noon).
Photo via Twitter/@NYRangers