KOSICE – Sweden scored three goals in the second period to break a 1-1 tie en route to a 6-2 win over the United States at Steel Arena tonight. The win allowed Sweden to leapfrog Norway and the U.S. to claim first place in the group and, more importantly, give them three more points to carry-over to the Qualification Round.
Sweden vs. United States 6-2 (1-1, 3-0, 2-1) Game Sheet Photos
Sweden now goes to Group F of the Qualification Round with four points and will play France on Friday. The U.S. takes three points forward and will play Canada, also on Friday.
Patrik Berglund led the offence with two goals, and Mattias Sjögren had a goal and two assists. Goalie Viktor Fasth was solid as a rock when he had to be in turning aside 30 of 32 shots.
"The last two periods of the last game we played really well," said Fasth, "and that carried over to today. We had a good start and kept going."
But the Swedes as a team taught the U.S. a lesson in puck pursuit and creativity. And once they had the game in hand in the second, they got under the collective skin of the Americans, forcing them to lose focus. The bigger Swedes played a physical, aggressive game that bothered the Americans much of the night.
The U.S. has beaten Sweden only once in the last decade at the World Championship (2005) and were further affected by a weak game from goalie Al Montoya.
"It's a new Swedish team here," said David Petrasek. "We've been working on a new system all season. Forwards work hard and like to pressure high. We like to get the puck while it's still in the offensive zone."
"They did a good job of coming at us with a lot of speed," agreed U.S. defenceman Jack Johnson, "and they're patient at re-grouping. It's tough to play against, but I thought that there were times we took it to them. We gave up six goals – you're not going to win a lot of games doing that."
The three-goal outburst began early with a poor Montoya decision. Playing the puck behind the net, he back-handed it directly to Mattias Tedenby, who pushed it out front where Marcus Krüger pushed it into the open cage.
Midway through the period Jimmie Ericsson dropped the puck to Sjögren and went to the net, taking several players with him. Sjögren’s shot went off the glove of Montoya and dribbled over the goal line.
The dagger to the heart came at 15:16. Magnus Pääjärvi tried making a pass coming out from behind the American goal, but a defenceman deflected it right to Montoya. He bobbled the puck, and in that split second Berglund snapped it in to make it a 4-1 game.
The first period was as entertaining as any in the Kosice half of the tournament so far. Teams exchanged scoring chances, skated freely from end to end, and forced both goalies to make several fine saves.
Sweden opened the scoring at 17:31 after a giveaway by defenceman Mark Stuart. He tried to fire the puck around the boards from behind his own goal, but Martin Thörnberg picked it off and made a nice pass to a wide open Berglund at the top of the faceoff circle. He ripped a shot out of the reach of Montoya.
Just 72 seconds later, though, the Americans tied the game on a power play. With Mattias Tedenby in the box for holding, Derek Stepan carried the puck over the blueline down the left wing. The right-hand shot then made a sensational backhand saucer pass to Cam Fowler, flying in on goal. Fowler merely had to put his stick down and snap the puck past Fasth.
Blake Wheeler added a goal for the U.S. midway through the final period but that was as close as they would get this night. Jimmie Ericsson made it 5-2 late in the third with a routine wrist shot that went through the pads of Montoya.
David Petrasek closed out the scoring with a power-play goal after an undisciplined penalty by Jack Johnson.
"I think we're getting better," Fasth offered. "We started badly by losing to Norway, but we didn't play as well as we can. Last game and now these were huge steps, so hopefully we can keep it going."