The excitement of women's hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi continued Tuesday, as Sweden and Germany faced off in Group B, with the Swedes landing a convincing 4-0 victory.
Sweden wrestled control of the game early on with Emma Nordin scoring, which quickly put the Germans under pressure facing an up-hill battle to shift momentum in their favor.
Sweden's dominance continued in the contest, per sochi2014.com, with the favorites recording 18 shots on goal in the first two periods. However, no further score was forthcoming during this time.
Valentina Wallner was in inspired form in goal, as she denied the Germans early in the third period.
As the German team piled forward to try to land an equalizer, the Swedes expertly broke away during a two-on-one attack that saw the brilliant Cecilia Ostberg convert a simple chance. She flicked the puck over the line to put some daylight between the teams.
German hearts were then completely broken soon after, as Michelle Lowenhielm bundled an opportunity over the line and made the score 3-0.
Sweden then converted their fourth goal of the game with a beautiful slap-shot finish from Pernilla Winberg after some careless defensive play from Germany. Her slightly deflected effort smashed into the roof of the goal.
The Swedes have maximum points from their two matches now and are yet to concede a goal in the competition.
Both of these teams initially opened their Olympic campaigns with differing success.
Qualifiers Germany met a powerful Russian unit and were undone 4-1, with the Swedes edging past their opponents Japan with a slim 1-0 victory.
Wallner had an impressive game for her side in the opening tie, as she did against Germany on Tuesday. She stopped 19 shots for the Swedes, per the Canadian Press. scored the only goal of the game against a buoyant Japanese side. The player was previously a member of Sweden's 2006 silver-medal-winning team.
This Games sees a revised format to improve the competition. The powerhouses of Canada, USA, Finland and Switzerland were placed in Group A, with Sweden and Russia placed in Group B for positioning fifth and sixth, per sochi2014.com, in last year's world rankings. Germany and Japan joined the two via qualifiers.
Sweden entered Group B with previous successes still ringing in their ears from recent Olympic Games. The team won bronze in 2002 and silver in 2006, but have not been in greatest of form for some time.
They are the only team other than the USA or Canada to have reached an Olympic gold-medal game, beating the Americans in the 2006 semifinal on their way to earning a silver medal, per the Canadian Press. But they have struggled lately, falling into the second-tier Group B that will have to compete for two spots in the quarterfinals.
Despite Sweden's falling from grace in recent times, they have a good chance of a medal this time around. Group A will undoubtedly provide the winners of the gold medal, but both Sweden and Russia will fancy their individual chances.
The German team were never serious contenders to find their way to an unlikely medal, and were seriously exposed in their opening match, with some poor team play. The Germans realized against Sweden that they are simply not good enough at this level, and will struggle even when they face Japan. There is every chance they will stay at the bottom of this grouping.
They played with little ambition in this match and showed no creativity after falling behind in the middle of the third period. Without some excellent goaltending, Sweden could have won the match by 10 goals, and the score was a fair reflection of the two side's overall play.
Sweden also showed the importance of having a world-class goalkeeper. The presence of Wallner could see their team progress deeper than many would think possible. Against Russia, she showed her full repertoire of skills. These will need to be on display once again when her nation runs into one of the competition favourites.
An ambitious Swedish side should be optimistic at having an opportunity to win this group.