Nicklas Backstrom and Erik Karlsson. (Getty Images)
The Swedes took advantage of weak goaltending from the Czechs, while the Swiss narrowly avoided being upset by the feisty Latvian squad on Day 1 of the men's Olympic tournament.
By Alexander Liepold
SWEDEN 4, CZECH REPUBLIC 2
Erik Karlsson scored two goals in his Olympic debut as Sweden doubled up on the Czech Republic 4-2.
Karlsson opened the scoring by beating Czech netminder Jakub Kovar from the point for a 1-0 lead at 10:07 of the first period.
Patrick Berglund added another with a slap shot short side just over three minutes later.
Henrik Zetterberg’s marker 51 seconds into the second period chased Kovar from the net. Kovar was replaced by Alexander Salak after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
After Karlsson scored his second of the game, the Czechs got goals from Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr less than two minutes apart to cut Sweden’s lead in half, but could not get any closer. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves in the victory.
Sweden’s next game is Friday against Switzerland, while the Czechs will line up against Latvia.
SWITZERLAND 1, LATVIA 0
Simon Moser spoiled a stellar performance by Latvian netminder Edgars Masalskis by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 Switzerland triumph. Moser scored with just eight seconds left on the clock, leaving no chance for a Latvian response.
Masalskis made 38 saves in the loss, while Jonas Hiller stopped all 21 shots for the shutout.
Groups A and B begin play Wednesday.
For standings, results and more from Sochi, check out THN's Olympic Hockey Central.