BERNE – In the last game in Group C, Sweden and the US put on an entertaining show with all the elements of a great hockey game. In the end, the Swedes came out on top, having rallied back from a 5-2 deficit to a 6-5 OT win.
At the halfway mark of the third period, the US had a 5-2 lead. Seven minutes and 59 seconds after the Americans' fifth goal, the game was tied at five, with the Swedes in the driver's seat. And just a little over minute into the overtime, Kristian Huselius got a chance he didn't miss, grabbing the win for the Swedes.
Magnus Johansson got a goal and two assists, Mattias Weinhandl two goals and assist for the Swedes, Ryan Shannon netted two and Jack Johnson and John Michael Liles collected 1+2=3 points each for the US.
Swedish coach Bengt-Åke Gustafsson decided to let goalkeeper Jonas Gustavsson play his first career World Championship game. Gustavsson was Sweden’s third goalie in as many games. It turned out to be a smart move as Gustavsson was the team's best player tonight.
"How often do you see a goalie give up five goals and still be their best player? He was fantastic. We might have hand nine or ten goals tonight otherwise," the US head coach Ron Wilson said.
The first shifts of the game showed what the teams had in store, exchanging punches, the game flowing from end to end in a good pace. But few fans could anticipate all the turns of the rollercoaster tonight.
With six minutes remaining in the first period, Jason Blake sent Patrick O’Sullivan on a breakway. O’Sullivan shook off the Swedish defencemen and beat Gustavsson with a wristshot to the topshelf.
The second period was filled with powerplays. First, Sweden got its chance to tie the game when Suter took his second penalty of the game. Dick Tärnström got the puck to Magnus Johansson on the blueline, he sent a hard cross ice pass to Mattias Weinhandl waiting at the farside, with an easy job to send the puck into the American net at 25:07.
A minute and 35 seconds later, Marcus Nilson picked up a rebound and gave Sweden a 2-1 lead.
That's when Sweden’s powerplay woes started. First Tony Mårtensson was sent off for slashing, then Rickard Wallin joined him for tripping, giving the Americans a two-man advantage. John Michael Liles skated all the way to the faceoff point, then backed up to the slot and sent a slapshot past Gustavsson.
Six minutes later, the Swedes found themselves in the same situation. This time Liles and Jack Johnson played the puck to Ryan Shannon, who beat Gustavsson on the shortside, giving the Americans the lead for the second time in the game.
Thanks to the powerplays, the US also outshot Sweden 33-17 in the first two periods.
"We made some mistakes and bad decisions that gave them scoring chances. The players have to make decisions in a thousandth of a second and sometimes they make the wrong one," said Bengt-Åke Gustafsson.
The Americans kept the wheels turning. At 44:06, Shannon scored his second of the night after Drew Stafford found him in the slot.
Four minutes later, TJ Oshie carried the puck into the Swedish zone, found Jack Johnson on his right and sent a saucer to Johnson, who onetimed it next to the right post, making it 5-2 at 48:20.
Just 26 seconds later, Magnus Johansson followed the Swedish attack and sent Weinhandl’s pass past Robert Esche in the American goal to bring the Swedes a little closer again.
And then a little closer. Niklas Persson followed Kenny Jönsson's and Kristian Huselius's 2-on-1 attack which the Americans stopped, but the puck found its way to his blade in the slot, and he slammed it past Esche to make it 5-4, at 52:45.
At 56:19, the Swedes were as close as they could get. Completely even. Weinhandl carried the puck into the American zone, and took a wrist shot from the top of the circle, surprising Esche on the glove side, for his second of the night.
In the overtime, Patrick O'Sullivan turned the puck over on the Swedish blueline, giving the Swedes a chance to go on attack. After several chances, the puck ended up with Kristian Huselius, who completed Sweden's magical night, and gave the team the win on overtime.
"This was an important win for the team, it'll make us stronger. It looked bad there for a while, and I think even our fans had lost faith, but turning the game around like this is good for our morale," Huselius said.
Sweden will play reigning world champion Russia on Thursday afternoon. Team USA has a day off, then takes on France on Friday.