Niklas Edin curls near-perfect game as Sweden beats Canada

Sweden steals 3 points in win to remain undefeated

Niklas Edin curls near-perfect game as Sweden beats Canada
Swedin skip Niklas Edin curled 99 per cent, beating Canada 5-2 in Saturday in South Korea. © Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

By Nick Murray, CBC Sports

Niklas Edin curled a near-perfect game against Canada as Sweden stole three points in the match to beat the three-time defending Olympic champions 5-2 at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Edin, who carried Sweden's flag in the opening ceremony, curled 99 per cent in the game, in what could be a preview of the gold medal match. With the win, Sweden (5-0) is the only remaining undefeated team in round-robin play.

"Someone told me and I was like 'not even 100?'" Edin joked with CBC's Coleen Jones.

"No, but that felt like a really good game. We kept our focus up there and we needed to make some really precise shots. That's what we're going to have to do the rest of the event to be able to get a chance of winning here."

Canada's Kevin Koe had his chances, but found himself facing tough shots throughout the match to keep Sweden from stealing.

Canada (4-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second as Koe played a perfect draw to the button, snuggling up against the Canadian shot stone thanks to a solid sweeping effort by teammates Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert.

In the third with Sweden sitting two, Koe nailed a double-takeout, leading Swedish skip Niklas Edin to throw a blank to keep the hammer.

After another blank in the fourth, Koe tried a runback double on his last stone in the fifth end but he just missed the Swedish stone in the lower house, allowing Sweden to draw for two and tie the game.

Turning point

Sweden would then turn the tables in the sixth. On his last rock and with a crowded house, Edin played a perfect freeze, tapping Sweden's shot rock right onto the button to lie two.

Koe tried to stop the bleeding with his last rock and limit Sweden's inevitable steal to a single, but couldn't knock out the Swedish stone on the button, allowing the Swedes to steal a pair and take a 4-2 lead.

After a blank in the seventh, Sweden again had the Canadians against the ropes as Edin played another freeze — this time up against a Canadian stone — to sit shot rock. Koe was left with a tough running triple, but couldn't make it allowing Sweden to steal another to go up 5-2.

In the ninth, Canada showed some life, and had two rocks roughly five feet apart in the house. But Edin came through with a stellar double takeout. Koe then opted to blank the end to have the hammer going into the 10th, down by three, where Sweden sat back on defence to seal the win.

"Just one bad end. We didn't really have an easy shot to get out of it, which is unfortunate," Koe said of the sixth end.

"He made a good shot on his last one just to put us in some heat. We didn't hate my throw. Just kind of got fooled on it. That was the big turning point."

'They're going to have to play good to beat us'

Despite the loss, Koe said he's pleased with how his team is curling — the Canadian skip is throwing 84 per cent in the tournament so far.

"It's definitely no panic. We feel good out there. The ice is great, we have a good read on it," he said.

"We just strung together a few misses and that's kind of what potential is there to happen when you do that in the same end."

For Edin, the win gave the Swedes a big confidence boost.

"Now we're definitely showing we're in the mix. They're going to have to play good to beat us," Edin said.

"Especially if we can win the round robin, that's hammer in the playoffs. I think it might have been a really important step towards reaching out goal here."

This is the second consecutive time Edin has beaten Koe, edging the him 6-5 in the semifinal at the Meridian Canadian Open in January.

This also isn't the first time Canada has lost to Sweden in the Olympic round robin — or Niklas Edin for that matter. At the 2014 Games in Sochi, Brad Jacobs' rink took Edin down to the wire, with the Swedish skip scoring a single in the 10th end for the win.