3 Takeaways From Team Sweden’s 2-1 Semifinal Shootout Loss to ROC

Team Sweden was ever-so-close to earning its first gold medal in almost two decades.

They’ll have to settle for a chance to play for bronze, instead.

2022 Olympics Beijing 2022 Sweden
2022 Olympics Beijing 2022 Sweden (The Hockey Writers)

ROC outlasted Sweden in an eight-round shootout on Friday, ultimately coming away with a 2-1 victory in the men’s ice hockey semifinals, and will face Finland in the Olympics’ gold medal game on Sunday. The Swedes will face Slovakia on Saturday with a chance to win bronze.

Here’s what we learned after Friday’s shootout loss.

Sweden Shows Resolve Late, But Falls in Shootout

With a chance to play for gold on the line, the game was as intense as anyone could imagine. ROC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second period, courtesy of Anton Slepyshev, who scored just 15 seconds into the period. Swedish goalie Lars Johansson didn’t let anything in the rest of the way, which opened the door for a dramatic third period.

6:22 into the third, Team Sweden captain Anton Lander evened the game up after putting home a rebound, and from that point on it was a chess match, with neither team able to score. The two battled through various chances in a 10-minute 3-on-3 overtime frame, but no one scored, setting up the dramatic finish.

Even the standard international five-round shootout wasn’t enough, though it wasn’t for the faint of heart. The Swedes were actually one save away from winning the game, after having scored twice through the first four rounds, but Johansson was unable to stop Yegor Yakovlev for the win, and the teams played on.

From there, it was a goaltending clinic, until ROC penalty shooter Arseni Gritsyuk ended the game after snapping his attempt up and over Johansson’s blocker. Though the Swedes started strong in the shootout, they finished 0 for their last five attempts.

Just like that, heartbreak.

Johansson Did All He Could

It was an admirable game for the Swedish netminder, as he made save after save to keep the team in the game until the very end. In addition to stopping five of ROC’s eight shootout attempts, he finished with 39 saves in the game, and truly gave the Swedes every opportunity to win.

The 34-year-old netminder has had a stellar Olympics, and is fourth overall in the tournament after posting a 96.20 save percentage (SV%) and 0.95 goals-against average (GAA), helping Sweden to this stage of the tournament. He has also recorded one shutout.

Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov was equal to the task, and has mounted a 94.41 SV% and 1.53 GAA to this point of the Olympics, and now has a chance to play for gold. Despite giving up two goals in the first two rounds of the shootout, he locked it down when it mattered most, and Team Sweden was unable to solve him, ultimately equaling heartbreak, while ROC will try to win its second consecutive gold.

Sweden Will Face Slovakia For Bronze

Even with the loss, Team Sweden still has something to play for – its first Olympic medal since taking silver in the 2014 Sochi games. The Swedes will play Slovakia, whom they handled relatively easily during preliminary round play, winning 4-1.

Slovakia was shut out 2-0 in its semifinal game against Finland, another Group C opponent.

In the first matchup between the two countries, Sweden raced out to a 3-0 lead, behind three first period goals. Interestingly enough, Swedish goalie Magnus Hellberg, and not Johansson, was in net for the game, and he turned aside 40 of Slovakia’s 41 shots. That said, given Johansson’s recent hot hand, it’s likely he gets the nod in net on Saturday.

Lucas Wallmark, Carolina Hurricanes
Lucas Wallmark pictured here with the Carolina Hurricanes, leads Sweden in scoring. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Forward Juraj Slafkovsky scored the only goal for Slovakia in the game.

Swedish forward Lucas Wallmark continues to lead the team in scoring, and has five goals in as many games this tournament. Lander isn’t far behind, either, chipping in four goals and one assist over the same timeframe. Slovakia, meanwhie, is led by Slafkovsky, who has five goals in six tournament games. Goalie Patrik Rybar has been equally as impressive, posting a SV% of 95.76 and GAA of 1.04.

Gametime is set for 8:10 eastern on Saturday.

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