Team Sweden celebrates forward Jimmie Ericsson's goal as Latvia goalkeeper Kristers Gudlevskis skates away during the 2014 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey game at Shayba Arena Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sweden beats Latvia 5-3, finishes group stage undefeated

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It wasn’t the  blowout many expected, but Sweden still earned a convincing 5-3 victory over Latvia on Saturday to complete its sweep of Group C and secure no worse than a second seed in the playoffs.

Latvia played with a lot of tenacity and frequently challenged Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, but the Latvians also lacked discipline and that proved to be their downfall. Sweden’s first four goals were all scored with the man advantage. With several of the Swedes’ top forwards gone, they also relied on their depth to carry them through this contest as five different players found the back of the net: Patrick Berglund, Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Alex Edler and Jimmie Ericsson.

Ericsson, a 33-year-old Swedish league forward playing on a team full of NHL talent, ended up the hero today by scoring the game-winning goal.

Latvian netminder Kristers Gudlevskis surrendered five goals on 29 shots, but was solid in spite of the scoresheet. The 21-year-old netminder serving in Tampa Bay’s minor league system made some impressive saves in this contest, even if the end result wasn’t pretty.

With this win, Sweden will wait for the conclusion of the Finland vs. Canada match on Sunday to find out where they will finish in the rankings. They are already guaranteed to advance to the quarterfinals but, with a goal differential of just plus-five, Sweden won’t be able to rank higher than the winner of the Canada-Finland game if either of them get three points.

Therefore, Sweden needs to hope that the contest goes to overtime.

Latvia, meanwhile, lost all three of its group matches but with a goal differential of just minus-five, it has a good shot of finishing with the 10th seed, which is the highest among the last-place teams.

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

As Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) looks on Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic waves to the crowd after a tribute to him was played on the screen during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

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The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

This GIF might just say it all, really:

Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.

Fight video: Yes, a visor-breaking punch

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Some hockey players resist the urge to wear a visor, at least if they’re given that choice.

Perhaps a few will say “Hey, Nathan Beaulieu will just punch it off anyway.”

Maybe not, but Beaulieu provided a rather unique moment in his fight with Cedric Paquette during the Montreal Canadiens – Tampa Bay Lightning game. You can watch that bout in the video above, and see a cut on the Lightning pest’s face from that blow.

Want it in GIF form? OK then: