Monster victory for Sweden

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — It wasn’t exactly music to calm the savage beast.

More like making the The Monster happy.

“That was a great feeling. When they hit the post and the puck doesn’t go in, you always feel good. That’s the sound you want to hear,” said goaltender Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson, as he backstopped Sweden to a 4-2 win over Belarus Friday in his Olympic debut.

After that stunning upset of the Swedes in a quarterfinal by Belarus in 2002 — remember Tommy Salo? — this game was looked upon with interest, and it did have its moments.

After Belarus carved a 3-0 Swedish lead down to 3-2 on a pair of goals by Dmitri Meleshko early in the third, Konstantin Zakharov hit Gustavsson in the shoulder and puck bounced off the crossbar, giving the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender the sound he wanted to hear and allowing the Swedes to keep the lead.

Sweden improved to 2-0 in the tournament, with a big game against Finland Sunday.

“It’s tough playing those teams you’re supposed to beat,” said Gustavsson, who gave starter Henrik Lundqvist a break. “In the end, it’s the win that counts and we won today, so that’s good for us.”

Swedish forward Daniel Alfredsson said he wasn’t thinking about what happened eight years ago.

“The difference is this is not a quarterfinal. The only thing we had to lose was embarrass ourselves in front of the media and I can handle that,” said the Ottawa Senators captain. “As long as I don’t have to go home. I wasn’t worried about it. I thought we played pretty composed down the stretch and fended them off pretty good.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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