SOCHI, Russia — Daniel Sedin buried the puck into the gaping Slovenian net, and then he fell to the ice.
Quite possibly, he fell in relief. Because for the former NHL scoring champ, that third-period tally — off a perfect pass from Loui Eriksson — was his first of the Olympics, and his first of any kind since Dec. 30, when he scored for his Vancouver Canucks against the Flyers.
“Yeah, it felt good,” said Sedin. “Two-nothing, too. As long as the game was 1-0, they’re right there, so it was a big goal for us.”
A big goal. And a long wait to get it. Counting the Olympics, Sedin had gone 22 games without bulging the twine, something he did 41 times when he won the Art Ross Trophy in 2010-11.
That said, he didn’t think the extended slump had affected his confidence.
“I’ve been playing for a long time,” he said. “You can’t change your game just because you haven’t scored.”
He also still thinks Sweden has room for improvement, even after shutting out Slovenia, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.
“It was better tonight. Still, it can get even better than this,” he said. “The opponents are going to be tougher the next two games, so we have to be ready and really bear down defensively.”
In Friday’s semis, the Swedes will either face their geographical rivals from Finland, or the host Russians.
“Finland’s looked really good. They play us as tight as anyone in this tournament,” Sedin said. “And Russia, we know what they can do up front, so it’s going to be tough either way.”
As for his twin brother, Henrik, who was forced to miss the Olympics with a rib injury, Daniel says they’ve spoken a few times during the Games.
According to Daniel, Henrik is hoping to be back playing for the Canucks once the Olympics are over.
“He hopes so, but we’ll see,” he said. “It’ll be close.”