(photo: POOL/REUTERS)

Two goals from Erik Karlsson catapulted Sweden to a 4-2 win today over the Czech Republic in the first men’s hockey game of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Karlsson drew first blood in the contest, proving why so many think Sweden is a gold medal contender: a team with strong scoring up front as well as from the blue line, and notable goaltender Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes.

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The Czechs made a surprising decision not to start their strongest goaltender in the contest, Ondrej Pavelec, opting for Jakob Kovar instead. As a result the match became less about Sweden proving they have the talent to win and more about the Czech Republic’s decision that may have cost them the game.

Patrick Berglund would find the back of the net three minutes after Karlsson, lifting Sweden to a 2-0 lead after one period of play. In the second, Sweden’s captain Henrik Zetterberg put a puck with eyes for the back of the net past Kovar. Alexander Salak replaced Kovar for the Czech Republic, their coaching staff making the clear decision not to play Pavelec, who reportedly did not even dress.

Karlsson would net his second goal of the game, capitalizing with nine seconds left on a power play, firing a rocket from the blue line resulting in a 4-0 lead for Sweden.

The Czechs came back later in the second period, though, when Marek Zidlicky collected a drop pass and fired the puck over Lundqvist’s shoulder to make the score 4-1. Czech legend Jaromir Jagr notched a goal of his own when he took a shot from down low which crept across the goal line on Lundqvist’s stick side.

The Czechs could not muster another goal in the third period, however, and the final score would be 4-2.

Sweden will next face Switzerland on Friday and Latvia on Saturday in round robin play.

 

A college hockey fan and hockey player, Krista Patronick decided to pursue a career in sports management after earning a degree in English from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in 2009 and spending three years in journalism. She received her Master's of Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University in 2013. After realizing she was meant to work in the hockey world, Krista went to work in any press box she could get into. She kept statistics, wrote shot charts, tweeted and live-blogged her way to a job as an operations coordinator and marketing director at The Hockey Academy in Hudson, N.H. She works with the company's two junior teams, adult hockey players, and youth teams. Krista is a goalie and enjoys playing hockey in her spare time. She is a die-hard Bruins and River Hawks hockey fan. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @KristaPatronick

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