Sweden beats Latvia 5-3, moves on to quarterfinals

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Daniel Alfredsson scored a go-ahead goal late in the second period and Sweden went on to beat Latvia 5-3 Saturday, staying undefeated and earning an automatic spot in hockey quarterfinals at the Olympics.

The Swedes (3-0) will get to rest until Wednesday when the top eight teams will begin playing the single-elimination portion of the tournament.

“We’re going to play better teams,” Sweden’s Henrik Lundqvist said after making 20 saves. “It will be more intense.”

But first, the Swedes will get to relax with three days off before they compete again.

Sweden defenseman Johnny Oduya plans to spend at least part of his off day on Sunday by going to the nearby mountains to watch Olympic skiing.

Oduya, though, would rather be on the ice against another team.

“We’re playing so well that I would rather play as soon as possible,” he said.

The last time the Olympics were in Europe, the Swedes won gold.

It would be quite a quite a feat if they can pull it off again.

Sweden is without captain Henrik Zetterberg, who pulled out of the tournament because of a herniated disk after playing a game, and Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen, both of whom were forced to skip the Olympics because of injuries.

Lundqvist, who helped Sweden win gold in 2006, acknowledged it will be a tough task to win three more games to win the best-on-best tournament.

“We’re not as skilled as we were four years ago, missing three players that would’ve been on our top two lines,” he said. “For this team, it will be about hard work and being disciplined. But we still do have a good team.”

The Latvians (0-3) have been good enough to be respectable in their losses, losing 1-0 with 7.9 seconds left against Switzerland, falling 4-2 to the Czechs and by two goals to Sweden after trailing by only one early in the third period.

Latvia will have to win Tuesday in the qualification round to earn a spot in the quarterfinals after being relatively competitive in their three losses.

Latvian coach Ted Nolan said it would be wrong to consider his team a longshot to win a game even though it has only one NHL player, 20-year-old rookie Zemgus Girgensons.

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