Sweden's chances of capturing gold in Sochi were already dulled by some key injuries. Now its captain may also be missing.
Henrik Zetterberg could be sidelined for the Swedes on Friday when they meet Switzerland in Group C play in a rematch of last year's world championship final.
Zetterberg contributed a goal as Sweden opened group play in impressive fashion Wednesday with a 4-2 victory over the Czech Republic. However, he didn't practice Thursday, remaining at the Olympic Village to rest a herniated disk in his back.
Zetterberg, who received anti-inflammatory treatment, will decide Friday whether he will play after consulting with NHL doctors on-site. He came into the Olympics leading Detroit with 48 points despite missing 13 games, mostly due to his back injury.
Outside expectations for the Swedes were somewhat lessened when they traveled to Sochi without Zetterberg's Red Wings teammate Johan Franzen (concussion symptoms) as well as standout center Henrik Sedin (ribs). Sweden still showed plenty of firepower Wednesday, tallying all four goals on its first 11 shots. Erik Karlsson scored twice in his Olympic debut, Patrik Berglund also had a goal and Oliver Ekman-Larsson was credited with two assists.
"It was a pleasant surprise," said Karlsson, who entered the break leading all NHL defensemen with 55 points for Ottawa. "I think we played well, and I played with great players. You know, sometimes you have to be in the right spot and hit the net, and have someone in front."
Sweden killed off all four of the Czechs' power plays, including three over the final 20 minutes. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots, including all 15 he faced in the third period.
"They created some chances, but in the end I think it was a good start for us," Zetterberg told the IIHF's website. "Obviously, there are a few things we have to work on and adjust to. That's how you get better in these kinds of tournaments - you learn as you go on."
Sedin tallied two goals and an assist when Sweden knocked off Switzerland 5-1 in the gold-medal game of the world championships last May in Stockholm.
The Swiss opened group play with an underwhelming 1-0 win over Latvia on Wednesday, only scoring on their 39th and final shot with 7.9 seconds left. Simon Moser was credited with the goal, which caromed off a Latvian defenseman.
Switzerland was scoreless on five power plays against a team boasting just one NHL player.
"The puck bounced our way at the end," coach Sean Simpson said.
Thought to be the team's strength, Jonas Hiller delivered a sturdy performance in net with 21 saves.
"In the Olympics, there are no easy games," said Hiller, who is 25-9-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average for Anaheim. "We got lucky at the end."
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