Olympic capsules: Sweden slips by Switzerland, Czech Republic survives Latvian scare

The Czech Republic traded goals early with the Latvians, but managed to pull away in the second and shut it down in the third, while Sweden needed a late goal to squeak by an impressive Switzerland team.

Led by Marek Zidlicky’s two points and Jakub Voracek’s game-winning goal, the Czech Republic survived a scare against Latvia in Day 2 of Group C action.

Martin Erat matched his NHL goal total on the season by getting the ball rolling in Friday’s game, putting the Czechs up 1-0 midway through the first period. Less than three minutes later, though, the Latvians tied the game up on a goal by Janis Sprukts. The Czechs still managed to take a lead into the first intermission as Jaromir Jagr notched his second goal of the tournament with less than a minute left in the first period.

But in the first few minutes of the second frame, Herberts Vasiljevs again tied the score for Latvia. The Czechs outplayed the Latvians, but didn’t manage to create separation on the score sheet until back-to-back goals from Jakub Voracek and Marek Zidlicky 10 minutes apart gave the Czechs a two-goal cushion.

After the two teams scored six times between them over the first two periods, there was no offence to speak of in the third. The Czechs only managed eight shots in the final period, but still outshot the Latvians 8-4.

Overall, Latvian goalie Edgars Masalskis had another strong outing. The same goalie who held the Swiss to one goal on Wednesday turned aside 35 of 39 Czech shots and kept his overmatched team in the game.

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With the win, the Czechs improve to 1-1 in the tournament and wrap up group play Saturday at noon Eastern against Switzerland. The Latvians fell to 0-2 with the loss and match up against Sweden, also at noon on Saturday, to finish their preliminary round.

Thanks to a soft goal by a cagey veteran late in the game, Sweden scraped by a pesky and much-improved Swiss team Friday morning to maintain their hold on the top spot in Group C.

The Swiss came out heavy, outshooting the Swedes 13-5 in the first period, but didn’t have any goals to show for their efforts. The Swedes picked up their pace over the final two periods, but the Swiss stayed close.

It wasn’t until late in the third period that the Swedes got their lead. With less than eight minutes left in regulation, Daniel Alfredsson managed to slip a goal past surprise Swiss starter Reto Berra as Jonas Hiller watched from the bench. Still, Berra played well, turning aside 30 of 31 shots from a powerful Swedish squad.

Henrik Lundqvist recorded the shutout for Sweden, stopping all 26 shots he faced.

Sweden closes out preliminary action against Latvia, while Switzerland will play the Czech Republic for second place in Group C.

For standings, results and more from Sochi, check out THN’s Olympic Hockey Central.