SOCHI, RUSSIA – Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for his second shutout of the Sochi Games and Carl Hagelin scored twice, helping Sweden rout upstart Slovenia 5-0 Wednesday to advance into Olympic hockey semifinals.
The 2006 Olympic champions will face the winner of the Russia-Finland game Friday for a spot in the gold-medal game.
Sweden is the only team to win all four of its games in regulation in what has been quite a feat without Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Sedin and Johan Franzen.
The short-handed Swedes ended a feel-good story, eliminating Slovenia in its first Olympic hockey tournament.
Alexander Steen broke a scoreless tie 18:50 into the game. After a scoreless second, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson and Hagelin broke the game open with four goals in the third period.
Hagelin shook off a hit to the head, a break for a team already missing three top-line forwards. Hagelin skated off the ice went to the bench in a daze with a busted-up lip after Slovenia’s Sabahudin Kovacevic landed his left shoulder on his head midway through the game. Kovacevic was suspended for a game earlier in the tournament for hitting Slovakia’s Tomas Kopecky in the head with his left elbow.
Sweden probably couldn’t afford to lose another player up front.
Zetterberg, the team’s captain, pulled out of the tournament after playing in one game because of a herniated disk. Henrik Sedin didn’t make the trip to play with his twin, Daniel, because of a rib injury. Franzen was ruled out because of a concussion.
Even without those standouts, the smooth-skating, sweet-passing Swedes have a shot to beat anyone in the best-on-best tournament in part because of the player they have between the pipes.
Lundqvist, who also shut out Switzerland in the preliminary round, won the 2012 Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. He lifted the Swedes to gold at the Turin Games eight years ago.
He wasn’t tested much in the quarterfinals by Slovenia, a team that no one thought would even be here a little more than a year ago.
Slovenia won two games in its first Olympic hockey tournament. It earned a spot in the 12-nation tournament by beating Belarus, Ukraine and Denmark in last year’s qualification tournament.
The team has only one NHL player, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, and it is coached by his father, Matjaz.
Sweden has 23 players from the NHL, not counting Zetterberg, one of six Detroit Red Wings on the team.
Early in the lopsided game, Slovenia was competitive and looked as if it belonged on the ice with a traditional power. It weathered an early storm of shots and started to control the puck and create chances of its own, but Lundqvist snagged or blocked everything.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5