Maybe the Czech Republic should have dressed Ondrej Pavelec, but maybe it wouldn't have mattered. Sweden proved why they are Gold Medal favorites with four straight goals before the Czech Republic rallied. But it was too little too late as Henrik Lundqvist closed the door and Sweden held on for the 4-2 victory.
Henrik Zetterberg's goal proved to be the winner while Erik Karlsson added two of his own.
The game got off to a fast pace with few whistles over the first eight minutes of play. It was fun seeing Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec reunited for the Czechs. And then there was Tomas Kaberle, remember him? That's okay, I'm still trying to forget as well.
Sweden struck first with their goalie pulled on a delayed penalty call on Martin Erat. Karlsson did what he does best with a shot from the point that found the back of the net. The goal was originally awarded to his former Ottawa Senators teammate Daniel Alfredsson, but later corrected. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alexander Steen picked up assists.
The Czech Republic found themselves in penalty trouble again shortly after the 1-0 goal as Michal Barinka received two minutes for interference. As terrifying as Sweden's powerplay looks, they failed to score with the extra man.
However, it was Patrik Berglund streaking down the left wing and scoring Sweden's second goal of the game shortly after the penalty had ended. It was a fast shot from a bad angle that Czech netminder Jakub Kovar will surely want back. Ekman-Larsson nabbed his second helper of the night while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist got one for himself for starting the play from Sweden's end.
The Czech Republic didn't get the second period start they were looking for. Detroit Red Wings' captain Zetterberg scored just 51 seconds into the frame to chase Kovar from the net.
Alexander Salak came into the net in relief, but faced a similar fate on the first shot he faced when Karlsson unloaded his second goal of the game. The powerplay goal, with assists from Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Backstrom, came while Marek Zidlicky was in the box for tripping.
Zidlicky made up for his foul by scoring the Czech's first goal of the game on a hard shot on a nifty Patrik Elias drop pass. The goal revitalized the Czechs and they started to take over the game for a large stretch of the second period.
Jagr scored with only one hand on his stick while Plekanec shoved Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall into Lundqvist.
Jagr with one hand is still better than a lot of guys with two.— Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) February 12, 2014
The play was reviewed but the goal stood, leaving Lundqvist and his teammates understandably unhappy.
No goals were scored in the third period but Ales Hemsky finally saw some ice time for the Czech Republic after spending most of the game nailed to the bench.
In an intriguing move, or non-move rather, the Czech Republic decided not to pull their goaltender late in the third period while down two goals. Since goal differential is considered when determining the standings, the Czechs likely didn't want to risk having an empty-netter scored against them stretching their differential from a negative two to a negative three.
Shots were 29-25 in favor of the Czechs, but they Sweden's goaltending proved far superior. With the win, Sweden takes over first place in Group C at the Winter Olympics. The pressure will now be on the Czech Republic to pick up wins over Switzerland and Latvia to advance further in the tournament.
Did you know?
The Bolshoy Ice Dome's roof lights up during hockey games to display the game's score and team's national flags.