Teenage sensation Rasmus Dahlin made his long-awaited Olympic debut for Sweden as his team took on Germany in the preliminary round. Despite being the consensus top overall pick in this year’s NHL draft, the 17-year-old logged the fewest shifts on his team by a significant margin—but it turned out to be a winning strategy as the Swedes earned a 1-0 victory.
It didn’t take long for Sweden to open the scoring. A German chance quickly transitioned into a Swedish breakaway, and two minutes in, Viktor Stalberg fired a shot past Timo Pielmeier’s blocker to give his team the early lead.
"It was a quick turnaround for us, and we got some speed up the middle," Stalberg said. "I got a good pass and split the defenders and capitalized on the breakaway."
Dominik Kahun rang the post on a power play midway through the first and Moritz Muller cannoned a shot off the crossbar the following frame, but Germany was unable to find a way past Jhonas Enroth, even with an extended two-man advantage late in the second period (which yielded yet another shot off the post).
"Half an inch here, half an inch there, and we would have had a couple of goals," German forward Marcel Goc said. "But their goalie played well—ours too—and that one goal at the end was the difference."
Meanwhile, Sweden struggled to add to its opening score, but Stalberg’s goal proved enough to push them past Germany thanks to some good fortune and Enroth’s 28 saves in a shutout effort.
Pielmeier took a tough-luck loss, but he can be proud of his game after he turned away every shot following the early score. He finished the night with 25 saves.
Germany remains without a win against Sweden in more than a half-century of Olympic history.
The Germans will look to rebound in their game against Norway, which begins at 10:10 p.m. on Feb. 17, Sweden looks to keep up its winning ways against Finland on Feb. 18 at 7:10 a.m.