The Swedish team is beat up, missing their captain Henrik Zetterberg and offensively gifted talents Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen.
And yet, they became the first of four teams to clinch a bye to the Quarterfinals.
That’s because 41-year old Daniel Alfredsson banged home a loose puck with less than eight minutes to play to give Tre Kronor a 1-0 win over an upstart Swiss squad that doesn’t give you much in the way of room.
Reto Berra (Calgary) started in goal in place of Jonas Hiller (Anaheim) for Switzerland and played superbly until the goal, in which a shot by Erik Karlsson handcuffed him and sat on the doorstep for a hard-charging Alfredsson to deposit in the net.
It was a tough break for Berra, who held one of the favorites to just the one goal while making 30 saves.
Meanwhile, Switzerland struggled to generate any sustained offense, and when they did get shots toward the goal, Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) was superb, making 26 saves for his third Olympic shutout.
Mark Streit was on the ice for Alfredsson’s goal, but wasn’t involved in the play. He registered one shot while again leading the Swiss in ice time.
Meanwhile, Jake Voracek scored the game-winning goal for the Czech Republic in a 4-2 win over Latvia that moved the Czechs into a second place tie in Group C with Switzerland.
Voracek deftly reached out his stick to redirect a Zbynek Micalek shot past Latvian goalie Edgars Masalskis to break a 2-2 tie in the second period.
Voracek, who played only 10:51 – the fewest minutes of any Czech player who stepped onto the ice- still registered four shots on goal.
Martin Erat (Washington) and former Flyer Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey) scored in the first period and Pittsburgh defenseman Marek Zidlicky added an insurance-marker for a two-point game in the Czech victory.
Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg), who curiously did not dress for the Czechs in their opening game loss to Sweden, made 18 saves to get the victory.
Former Flyer Petr Nedved had an assist in 11:49 of ice time.
For Latvia, former Flyer Oskars Bartulis led all players in ice time with 23:01, but was a game-worst minus-3.
Masalskis made 35 saves in the loss.
The Czechs will play Switzerland tomorrow at Noon EST with second place on the line in Group C. Latvia has a tall order tomorrow and will face Sweden, who will win Group C, but is playing for the NO. 1 overall seed moving into the Medal Round.
As for Group B, Canada poured it on against an overmatched Austria squad, rolling along behind a natural hat trick by former Flyer Jeff Carter (Los Angeles) to a 6-0 win.
The Canadian squad once again got goals from defensemen Drew Doughty and Shea Weber – both also scored in their opener against Norway – to give the Maple Leaf a 2-0 lead after one period.
Carter took over in the second as all three goals were easy for the big winger who was demoted from Sidney Crosby’s line after the opener.
He tapped in a loose puck on a rebound off the post by Patrick Marleau (San Jose), scored on a wrap around after Austrian goalie Bernhard Starkbaum misplayed the puck behind the net, and finally gathered in the rebound of a Marleau shot to flip one into the open net.
Carter had a chance at a fourth goal on a 2-on-1 later in the period, but rather than pass, Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim) fired a backhander past Starkbaum for 6-0.
Roberto Luongo made 23 saves in his first appearance in this Olympics for Canada.
Michael Raffl played 15:32 for Austria and had one shot on goal early on that Luongo stopped nicely. Raffl also inadvertently redirected Doughty’s shot that sneaked under Starkbaum’s right pad for the opening goal of the game.
Former Flyer Andreas Nodl played 13:00 and was a minus-1 in the game for Austria.
In the other Group B match, Finland dominated yet again, defeating Norway 6-1 to set up a winner-take all matchup with Canada Sunday to win Group B.
Lauri Korpikoski (Phoenix) scored twice, Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh) had a goal and two helpers, Olli Jokinen(Winnipeg) had a goal and an assist and Tuomo Ruutu had a pair of assists as the Finns have scored 14 goals in two games thus far.
Kimmo Timonen didn’t register a point, but played well in 17:52 registering one shot on goal and finishing a plus-1.
Kari Lehtonen (Dallas) played in goal instead of Tuukka Rask (Boston) and made 20 saves for the win.
Finland and Canada will meet at Noon EST Sunday in the final game of the round robin portion of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Austria and Norway will battle for seeding for the qualifying round when they meet Sunday at 3 a.m. EST.
Tomorrow’s schedule: (all times EST)
Slovakia vs. Slovenia , 3 a.m. NBCSN
USA vs. Russia, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic Noon NBCSN
Sweden vs. Latvia Noon MSNBC
To contact Anthony SanFIlippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers
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