Clocks Strikes Midnight as Sweden Ends Slovenia's Run in Sochi
Photo credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
He may not be leaving Sochi with a medal but given what most everyone said about his team's chances, Anze Kopitar has plenty to be proud of - and that goes for the entire Slovenian team.
They stayed competitive with Russia, they beat Slovakia and won over Austria in the qualifying round to reach the quarter-finals. Unfortunately, that's where the tournament ended for Kopitar and the Slovenians as top-seeded Sweden dominated, winning 5-0.
Alexander Steen got things started for the Swedes scoring with just 1:10 remaining in the first. Like most of their games this tournament, the Slovenians kept it close for much of the game. But in the third, Sweden showed why they were the top-seed heading into medal round as they blew the game wide open.
Just 1:42 into the third, Daniel Sedin gave the Swedes some insurance. Then, at the 8:41 mark, Loui Eriksson made it 3-0. From there, Carl Hagelin added a pair and just like that, it was 5-0 Sweden.
While he wasn't as busy as his opponent, Henrik Lundqvist was good when he had to be, stopping all 19 Slovenian shots to earn the shutout. Robert Kristan, meanwhile, was as good as he could have been. Despite allowing five goals, he stopped 33 shots in what was a Swedish onslaught towards the latter half of the contest.
So, Sweden advances to the semi-final where they will meet the winner of the Russia/Finland match. Their semi-final matchup will take place on Friday.
As for Slovenia, while the loss is disappointing, at least they can look back on the tournament, whether it's hours, days or even weeks from now, and feel proud of what they accomplished. Especially given how little of a chance they were given scoring a goal much less advancing to the medal round, the Slovenians can certainly hang their hat on the notion that they turn a lot of heads and, better, quieted a lot of critics.
Soon enough, it will be back to Los Angeles and the regular grind for Anze Kopitar. But for now, he and his teammates have plenty to feel good about despite the aftermath of today's quarter-final.