Alfredsson scores to power Sweden past Switzerland
SOCHI, Russia — Sweden isn’t looking for sympathy.
The short-handed Swedes beat Switzerland 1-0 on Friday, hours after they announced Henrik Zetterberg will miss the rest of the Sochi Olympics.
The win came on Daniel Alfredsson’s goal with 7:21 left and Henrik Lundqvist’s 26-save shutout.
"We are among those teams who can win this tournament anyway," Sweden coach Par Marts said.
The Swedes (2-0) moved into a favorable position to earn a spot in the quarterfinals as the only undefeated team in Group C. With a victory over winless Latvia on Saturday, they would be among the final eight in the 12-nation tournament.
Zetterberg will miss the rest of the tournament because of a herniated disk, taking a third key player off their roster.
"We all know what he goes through on a daily basis to be able to play, and for him to sit out, you know, it’s pretty bad," said Olympic and Detroit Red Wings teammate Niklas Kronwall. "In saying that, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves."
The Swedes were medal favorites a month ago, but since then the 2006 Olympic champions have lost three of their best forwards due to injuries: Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen.
Lundqvist, their three-time Olympian goaltender, still gives them a chance to win any game.
"We all know if we’re going anywhere, we need our goalie to be the best goalie in the tournament," Kronwall said.
And having five-time Olympian Alfredsson on the ice helps Sweden as well.
The 41-year-old forward skated hard down the ice on the game-winning goal to put himself in the right position to score easily off a rebound created by Erik Karlsson’s shot.
"I just tried to bust my own rear end as much as I could to get to the neutral zone and I think I was able to lose my guy and get open," Alfredsson said. "It’s a fortunate bounce, but I’m happy the goalie didn’t see it before me and swipe it out, and I was able to tap it in."
Swiss forward Roman Wick didn’t appear to aggressively backcheck to keep Alfredsson away from the front of the net after defenseman Raphael Diaz pushed forward Alexander Steen off to the right side.
Switzerland coach Sean Simpson insisted it was not Wick’s responsibility to get back to defend Alfredsson, but wouldn’t reveal who made the costly mistake.
"I’m not going to rip my guys," Simpson said.
The Swiss (1-1) may have to win in the qualification round to reach the quarterfinals even if they beat the Jaromir Jagr-led Czechs on Saturday to finish second in their group.
Swiss goalie Reto Berra stopped 30 shots, starting in place of Jonas Hiller.
Simpson said Hiller will face the Czechs in both team’s final preliminary-round matchup, adding he’ll make his choice in net on a game-by-game basis.
In the second game for both teams, the Swiss got off to a strong start. They outshot Sweden 13-5 in the first and didn’t have anything to show for it after the scoreless period.
Sweden bounced back with a better second period with almost twice as many shots as the Swiss in the period, but it was still scoreless. In the end, the Swedes made the saves and skated hard.
Marts said Alfredsson’s game-winning goal showed why he’s on the roster even though he’s one of the oldest athletes in Sochi.
"He’s one of the most-skilled players I’ve ever seen," Marts said. "He’s so smart and his hands are still really good."