February 9, 2014 / 10:27 AM / 6 years ago

Sweden see off dogged Japan 1-0

Sweden's Jenni Asserholt (4) celebrates her goal in front of Japan's Yuka Hirano during the first period of their women's preliminary round hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden beat a determined Japan team 1-0 in their Olympic women’s ice hockey opener on Sunday as they aim to resume their role as Winter Games giantkillers.

The only country to have beaten one of women’s hockey superpowers, the United States and Canada, in Olympic competition, Sweden shocked the Americans 3-2 in the semi-finals in Turin in 2006 to claim an unlikely silver medal.

A hard-fought win over Japan, who were making their first return to the Olympic stage since hosting the 1998 Winter Games, was a cautious first step for the Swedes.

Swedish netminder Valentina Wallner made 19 saves to collect the shutout and captain Jenni Asserholt scored the only goal.

(Refiled to correct name of netminder in final paragraph.)

Reporting by Steve Keating, Editing by Ed Osmond

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