“When we got the news about Zetterberg yesterday, it was a tough break. To replace him is going to be almost impossible,” said Lundqvist. “I could just feel my energy went down when I heard the news, but at the same time, you have to regroup.”
The Swedes played a dangerous Swiss team in their first game post-Zetterberg, a squad that’s made the transition from underdogs looking for upsets to medal dark horses. That needed someone to step up. So Lundqvist did.
The New York Rangers goalie aggressively stopped 26 shots, foiling numerous Swiss chances in a 1-0 preliminary round victory.
An unlikely goalie nearly matched him.
Reto Berra and Henrik Lundqvist had the best goalie duel of the Sochi Olympic men’s hockey tournament. Berra, a goalie for the Calgary Flames, got the spot start for Jonas Hiller, who is scheduled to play the following day against the Czechs. He made tough saves throughout the game, as the Swedish attack pumped 17 shots on goal in the second period.
But one singular moment at 12:39 of the third period was all his opponents needed.
Erik Karlsson of Sweden took a hard slap shot from the right side that Berra caught between his arm and his pad but couldn’t control. The puck landed in the middle of his crease, where Daniel Alfredsson – having flown past a lazy backcheck by a Swiss player – knocked it into a gaping net.
“It was a backcheck mistake from us,” said Swiss Coach Sean Simpson. “He drove the net. Won the puck, and won the game for Sweden.”
One moment. One mistake. One goal that would be all the Swedes needed, because Lundqvist did the rest.
“That goal at the end was great to see,” said Lundqvist of the Alfredsson goal, which ended a 112-minute stretch in which the Swiss didn’t surrender a goal in the Olympics.
That the Swiss didn’t get one themselves was due to Lundqvist.
He made a tough save on Roman Wick four minutes into the game. A sliding pad stop on Denis Hollenstein seven minutes in. A clutch snag of a Kevin Romy deflection on the penalty kill to start the third. An emphatic poke check on Andrew Ambuhl. Two saves on Martin Pluss, point blank and as he sliced through the Swedish defense for a shot.
“Two situations when I felt I was in trouble. In the first period, I was late coming over with my pad because the puck got stuck inside. In the third I left a bad rebound. He had an open net. Luckily for me, I got my pad on it,” said Lundqvist.
“Those two situations, I had a bad feeling.”
But he was locked in, the Swiss were locked out and the game was eventually locked up by Sweden, who moved to 2-0-0 in the tournament.
“He certainly got tested tonight, made some big saves in key moments,” said forward Gabriel Landeskog. “He’s one of the best goalies in the world when he plays like this.”
As they say: There’s no replacing Henrik.