Lundqvist made 19 saves for his second shutout of the Sochi Games and Carl Hagelin scored twice, helping the Swedes rout upstart Slovenia 5-0 Wednesday to advance into the Olympic hockey semifinals without three of their best players.
The New York Rangers star, who also blanked Switzerland in the preliminary round, won the 2012 Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. Lundqvist lifted the Swedes to gold at the Turin Games eight years ago without a shutout, and he believes he is better now.
“I learned so much over the years in New York,” he said. “I changed my game a lot. That was my first year in the league, and I changed my game that year, being very aggressive to playing more deep in the net and crease.”
On Friday, the 2006 Olympic champions will face Finland, which beat the host Russians, for a spot in the gold-medal game.
Then, the coach did something unusual: He made a prediction.
Even without them, the smooth-skating, sweet-passing Swedes have a shot to beat anyone in the tournament, in part because of Lundqvist.
“He’s been tremendous,” teammate Daniel Sedin said. “It’s fun to watch.”
So was Slovenia, playing in their first Olympic hockey tournament until they eliminated in a blowout.
“I can’t blame the players because their tanks were really empty,” Slovenia coach Matjaz Kopitar said.