The Swedish men’s Olympic hockey team suffered a stunning upset today with a 4-3 loss to Belarus after going unbeaten in the previous round of Olympic play.
The Belarussians never trailed in the game, the first of the medal round. Tied at three with 2:24 remaining in regulation, defenseman Vladimir Kopat let loose an eighty-foot slap shot that deflected off Swedish netminder Tommy Salo’s facemask and glove and dropped in behind him for the goal. Kopat, who hadn’t scored in the tournament, slid across the ice on his stomach in celebration.
The Swedes pulled Salo in the waning moments of the game but were unable to even the score. Belorussian goalie Andrei Mezin made forty-four saves to earn the victory, while Salo stopped only fifteen of the nineteen shots he faced.
The medal round continues today with Russia playing the Czech Republic, the United States facing Germany, and Canada going up against Finland.
With the elimination of the Swedes, only eight Red Wings remain in Olympic competition. Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan are with Canada; Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Datsyuk are with Russia; Chris Chelios and Brett Hull are with the United States; and Dominik Hasek is in goal for the Czech Republic.