WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The team with the Viking ship patch on its sweater is sailing right through some of the toughest waters the Olympics have to offer.
Sweden won its second game of the men's hockey final round by outlasting the Czech Republic, 2-1, Sunday at the E Center in a matchup of the last two gold medal winners.
The Swedes already dismantled a loaded Canadian team in the opener, and have clinched the top spot in Group C and the No. 1 playoff seed that comes with it.
"I don't think you can start any better," Swedish defenseman Fredrik Olausson said. "These [are] two very good teams we've beaten."
Tommy Salo was Sweden's goalie when it won in 1994, and Dominik Hasek was the goalie for the Czechs' victory run in 1998. Although they both played well Sunday, Salo was just a little closer to gold medal form.
He made 37 saves, including some on the best shots an inspired Jaromir Jagr had to offer.
"The difference tonight was Tommy Salo," Swedish captain Mats Sundin said. "You play in a tournament where, potentially, almost six teams can win it. Obviously, goaltending is very, very important."
The winning margin was a goal that Hasek allowed on a very ordinary shot by Sundin five minutes into the second period. Sundin slid the puck along the ice from the left side and it went between Hasek's pads to give Sweden a 2-0 lead.
If this were ice dancing, you might say Sundin earned this honor based on past performance. He was the best player on the ice in a two-goal effort against Canada and he got off to a good start Saturday.
"He was [shining] all season long and especially here," said Czech defenseman Tomas Kaberle, Sundin's teammate on the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He's got three goals already. He's been a big plus for the Swedish team."
Jagr was even better, though it was in a losing cause. He squeezed off a game-high seven shots on goal. He hustled, like when his shot went wide off the boards and he skated to the other end of the ice to keep it in the zone. He was even ornery, elbowing Mattias Nortstrom's helmet askew and even shoving a linesman ("He was coming and I was coming. That's my spot," Jagr explained).
"He was great today," Kaberle said. " Every time he had the puck he was dangerous for the Swedish team. He's been big for us too."
Said Jagr: "This might be my last chance to represent my country. It's a big tournament for me. I'm giving it my all."
The Czech Republic's defense prevented Sweden from making the long passes that were so effective against Canada. And the Czechs outshot Sweden, 30-14, in the last two periods. They pulled within a goal when Jiri Dopita scored 10 minutes 23 seconds into the second.
But their momentum slowed when forward Martin Havlat received a five-minute penalty and game misconduct for boarding fewer than two minutes later.
Sundin practically killed the penalty for the Czechs by himself by picking up roughing and holding penalties, the second coming less than 30 seconds after he finished serving the first. But even with a faster tempo generated by the four-on-four play, the Czechs couldn't beat Salo.
The Czech Republic (1-1-0) could still be heard from in the playoffs. Players from both teams said the Czechs played better over the latter part of the game.
"No matter how good you play, you have to win," Jagr said. "Bottom line. Only victory [counts]. If you lose in the playoff you go home and nobody remembers what kind of hockey you played, if you played good or bad. Everybody remembers: do you have a medal or not?"