Feb 12 2014, 2:53 PM EST -
By Steve Keating
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Defenseman Erik Karlsson blasted a pair of goals on his Olympic debut to help Sweden to a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic in their Sochi Winter Games ice hockey opener on Wednesday.
With the goaltending of Henrik Lunqvist, a mobile, puck-moving defense led by Karlsson and plenty of firepower up front, Sweden are serious contenders for the Olympic title which they last won at the 2006 Games.
Karlsson opened the scoring midway through the first period and added a powerplay tally in the second as the Swedes charged to a 4-0 lead at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
But the Czechs hit back with two quick-fire goals 1:49 apart from Marek Zidlicky and evergreen Jaromir Jagr, a member the 1998 gold medal winning team who will celebrate his 42nd birthday on Saturday.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg and Patrik Berglund had the other Sweden goals.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)