A lack of offense doomed the U.S. men for the second straight game at the Winter Olympics, as Sweden edged the Americans 2-1 Sunday to drop the U.S. to 1-2-1 in preliminary-round play at the Torino Esposizioni.
After playing 40 minutes to a 1-1 draw, Sweden scored the game winner at 4:22 of the third period on the power play when Mikael Samuelsson put in a rebound after a great save by U.S. netminder Rick DiPietro (Boston University) — who has started the last three games for the U.S. — on the initial shot by Daniel Alfredsson.
“Sweden is a tough team to defend and I thought for the most part we did a good job,” said U.S. head coach Peter Laviolette. “We need to keep working hard and good things will happen.”
The first period ended in a 1-1 tie. Sweden opened the scoring at 7:05 when Alfredsson scored off the rebound of Mats Sundin’s initial shot.
Mike Modano evened the game at 17:31 with his second goal of the Olympics. With a delayed penalty coming to Sweden, Modano took a feed from Craig Conroy (Clarkson) and blew one past Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist from the side of the right circle eight feet out.
A scoreless second period featured two lengthy five-on-three advantages for Team USA. While the Americans had several good scoring chances during what was cumulatively 3:37 of five-on-three play, the best opportunity came for Sweden’s Pere Johan Axelsson. He had a clean breakaway, but was turned away by DiPietro.
DiPietro and Lundqvist each made 24 saves in the game.
Team USA will play its fifth and final preliminary-round game Tuesday, Feb. 21, against Russia. Opening faceoff is set for 1:30 p.m. (EST) at the Palasport Olimpico.
Despite the loss, the U.S. team is nearly assured advancement to the quarterfinals regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s (Feb. 21) game with Russia. The Americans can finish no worse than a fourth-place tie with Latvia, in which case goal differential would be the tiebreaker.
The Latvians, who play Kazakhstan in their final preliminary game, would have to make up the 14-goal advantage the Americans presently hold.
The U.S.-Russia game will be televised live by NBC.