Slovenia blanks Austria, will face Sweden

The Sports NetworkFebruary 17, 2014 

Sochi, Russia ( - Robert Kristan turned aside 30 shots for a shutout and Jan Mursak and Sabahudin Kovacevic both had a goal and an assist to help Slovenia down Austria 4-0 in Tuesday's playoff game at the Sochi Olympics.

Competing for the first time in the men's hockey tournament at the Winter Games, the Slovenes advanced to the quarterfinals by stifling the Austrian offense. Next up for Slovenia is Wednesday's quarterfinal battle with top- seeded Sweden. The Swedes earned a bye to the quarters after going 3-0 in Group C.

Anze Kopitar and Jan Urbas also scored for Slovenia, while David Rodman added two assists.

Mathias Lange surrendered three goals on 34 shots for Austria, which was trying to advance to the quarterfinals at the Olympics for the first time.

Kopitar gave the Slovenes an early lead with his second goal of the tournament. With Slovenia working on a power play, the Los Angeles Kings star sent a wrister on net from the slot and the puck trickled between Lange's pads for a 1-0 lead at 5:29 of the first period.

Slovenia built a 2-0 lead at 11:57 of the opening stanza on a short-handed tally from Urbas. Austria's Thomas Vanek turned the puck over in the offensive zone and Urbas collected the disc and charged down the right wing. He let go of a wrist shot from the right circle and beat Lange on his glove hand.

Kovacevic pushed the lead to three goals when he wristed a shot over Lange's glove hand from the slot at 3:21 of the second. Kovacevic was back in Slovenia's lineup Tuesday after serving a one-game suspension for delivering an elbow to the head of Slovakia's Tomas Kopecky during a preliminary round game.

Kristan stopped 10 shots in each of the three periods to help Slovenia post its first shutout of the tournament. His team was able to add a fourth goal on an empty-net tally from Mursak with 2:58 left in the third period.

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