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Karlsson leads Sweden past Czechs in hockey opener

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm •  Published: February 12, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Erik Karlsson's impressive Olympic debut demonstrated why Sweden has more than enough talent to win it all.

Karlsson scored two goals in his first Olympic game, captain Henrik Zetterberg added a goal and Sweden beat the Czech Republic 4-2 Wednesday night in preliminary-round play in men's hockey.

Patrik Berglund also scored and Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves as the Swedes opened the Sochi tournament with a display of their formidable offensive depth. Although Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen are out with injuries, Sweden is confident it has young talent just waiting to fill the net.

"We've got a lot of good players," Eriksson said. "I just want to be part of it."

Sweden scored four times on its first 11 shots, chasing Czech goalie Jakub Kovar at the Bolshoy Ice Dome and taking a 4-0 lead early in the second period.

Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators' standout young defenseman, scored the opening goal 10 minutes in and added a power-play goal early in the second period, putting both shots past screens set by his veteran teammates.

When asked if he ever imagined scoring two goals in his Olympic debut, Karlsson shook his head violently enough to send beads of sweat flying across the room.

"It was a pleasant surprise," Karlsson said. "I think we played well, and I played with great players. You know, sometimes you just have to be in the right spot and hit the net, and have someone in front."

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Karlsson's similarly talented young partner on defense, had two assists as Sweden thrived without Henrik Sedin or Franzen, who couldn't travel to Sochi. Those absences leave the Swedes behind Canada and Russia as gold-medal favorites, but they still handled their toughest matchup of the preliminary round with aplomb.

Lundqvist, the star of Sweden's gold-medal run in Turin eight years ago, comfortably disposed of several nervous moments in the scoreless third period with 15 saves as the Czechs made a late push fueled by a partisan crowd.

"We made it tough for us, but I'm happy with the way we regrouped," Lundqvist said. "You want to start building something, and this is a good start for us."

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