- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - With Henrik Lundqvist in goal, Sweden never seems to be short-handed.

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.

Before Finland played Russia, Sweden coach Par Marts was asked about his next opponent and replied, “Does it matter?”

Then, the coach did something unusual: He made a prediction.

“I think the Russian team will win,” Marts said. That forecast turned out to be wrong, as Finland eliminated Russia 3-1.

Finland coach Erkka Westerlund said “no comment” when asked for his reaction to what Marts said, and Finn forward Olli Jokinen added: “I don’t really care.”

Sweden is the only team to win all four of its games in regulation - without Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Sedin and Johan Franzen.

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.

Alexander Steen got the first goal at 18:50 into the game. After a scoreless second, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson and Hagelin broke it open with four goals in the third period.

“I can’t blame the players because their tanks were really empty,” Slovenia coach Matjaz Kopitar said.

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