A plucky effort from Slovenia was stamped upon by gold-medal contender Sweden, who cruised past their opponents 5-0.
The Slovenians showed spells of fight and endeavour, but ultimately they were outclassed by a powerful Swedish unit on Wednesday.
Sweden dominated the opening minutes of the game as they instantly displayed their obvious superiority over their unfancied opponents.
Things changed midway through the first period as Slovenia gained a power play, with Jonathan Ericsson called for tripping, and the underdogs momentarily began to hurt the Scandinavian contingent.
A couple of smart breakaways led to them applying huge pressure as the first period closed out, but suddenly the game's momentum switched.
Sweden scored in the 18th minute as Alexander Steen smashed home from a sharp angle during a power play of their own. Slovenia had been penalised for high-sticking from Jan Mursak, and Sweden capitalized, ending the first period up 1-0.
Slovenia came out hard and fast in the second period as they attacked with gusto, but Sweden slowly turned the screw, showing their superior experience, ensuring that both goaltenders were busy.
But Slovenia's intensity stayed true, and they continued to put in an amazing work-rate. This enthused the Russian crowd to cheer them forward, creating a wonderful atmosphere in the venue.
The second period ended with the score still 1-0 in a tight affair.
However, Slovenia's hopes were dashed as Sweden's Daniel Sedin notched a goal at the start of the third period, effectively ending the contest and silencing the crowd.
The Swedes then closed the match down, honing their tactics to control the game. They began to grind their opponents down. In the 49th minute, the inevitable third goal came after a brilliant effort from Loui Eriksson.
Slovenia's fairy tale was then extinguished as Sweden grabbed a fourth goal after some slick team play and an easy finish for Carl Hagelin. A fifth was soon coming as Hagelin flicked home an easy strike.
Slovenia had been the surprise package of Sochi 2014, with their goalkeeper Robert Kristan starring. The player said of his team's performance, per Scott Burnside of ESPN.com:
Yesterday, I was talking to a certain someone who knows a lot about the game of hockey. He said he's been following us the last couple of years and said we've done tremendous work and it's a huge jump from where we were five years ago. To hear that from a guy like that is unbelievable. A guy called Steve Yzerman.
Steve Yzerman, of course, is the former Canadian player of the Detroit Red Wings and a Hall of Fame member.
Infostrada Sports tweeted its opinion about why it feels the statistics support a Swedish victory at Sochi 2014:
The most likely medallists in the men’s ice hockey are Sweden, Canada & Russia according to our statistical model: http://t.co/QnL9PY9sBX— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaGold) February 19, 2014
Sweden will now look forward to the next stage of the competition and will feel they have a glorious chance of a medal. Their pragmatic and tactical style means they can control their opposition, and even though they are not as exciting as many of their rivals, they have incredible quality. They are the best side at closing down the puck and are very strong in defence.
The gold medal is very much in their grasp, and they will not fear any team in front of them. In Henrik Lundqvist they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and the New York Rangers player will be pivotal in any success his nation has.
Sweden are the rightful No. 1 seed at the Games, as by right of being the reigning world champions, but the USA and Canada will push them hard. However, if they show the efficiency they displayed against Slovenia, the gold medal will be hung around Swedish necks.