VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Peter Forsberg and Jaromir Jagr were back on familiar ground stalking Olympic ice hockey gold on Wednesday and the Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne grabbed a share of a Winter Games scoring record.
Two of the NHL’s biggest names before returning to Europe to close out their brilliant careers, Forsberg and Jagr took sold-out crowds at Canada Hockey Place on trips down memory lane and showed they still belong among the sport’s best.
The two former NHL scoring champions and league most valuable players will not be counted on for goals in Vancouver but are still capable leaders, both men selected to carry their country’s flag in the opening ceremony.
Forsberg showed no sign of the chronic foot problems that forced him to end his NHL career prematurely three seasons ago but his Sweden team looked a little out of step as they began the defense of their Olympic title with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Germany.
Second period powerplay goals from Mattias Ohlund and Loui Eriksson were all the offense the Swedes could muster but it was more than enough as netminder Henrik Lundqvist notched the shutout with a little help from his goalposts.
”When they were hitting posts and crossbars it felt like my day,“ Lundqvist told reporters. ”It always feels good to get a shutout.
“But the funny thing about hockey, you feel like you’re in control but you make one mistake and it’s different.”
Jagr showed he has not lost his scoring touch, contributing a goal and an assist as 1998 Olympic champions the Czech Republic tamed rivals Slovakia 3-1 in hard-hitting clash between the local rivals.
Finland opened their account with a 5-1 rout of Belarus.
Playing in his fifth Olympics, Selanne picked up an assist on Olli Jokinen’s first period powerplay goal to join Canadian Harry Watson, former Soviet Union great Valeri Kharlamov and Czechoslovakia’s Vlastimil Bubnik at the top of the all-time Olympic scoring list with 36 points.
“It’s a big honor but it is not my goal,” Selanne told reporters. “I have been around a long time and I have always played with good players and good things happen.”
It was a solid start to the tournament for the 2006 Turin silver medalists, who also got a pair of goals from Niklas Hagman, Valtteri Filppula and Jarkko Ruutu.
Editing by Ed Osmond