MANNHEIM – Jonas Andersson scored two quick goals in the second period to propel the Swedes to a 3-1 win over Canada at SAP Arena. The game featured only one minor penalty through the first two periods, to Sweden, a good indication of the uninspired play from both sides.
The win puts Sweden in a tie for first place in Group F with nine points with the Swiss, but Switzerland has a game in hand. Canada is now in third place with six points.
"I think you always want to beat a team like Canada," said Jonathan Ericsson. "It was huge for us. It was a good test, and we've made it through to the quarterfinals. We're still going to try to win our group and give ourselves the best opportunity to make it as far as possible."
Johan Harju got the opening goal for the Swedes on two miscues by defenceman Kris Russell. First, he threw a dangerous pass up the left wing which was intercepted at centre ice, and then he came off the ice right away, leaving that wing entirely open. Harju walked in and drilled a wrist shot to Chris Mason’s stick side, beating him for a 1-0 Tre Kronor lead just 2:35 into the game.
The Swedes then did what they do best – play a style of hockey in which they kill the clock while neither generating many scoring chances nor giving up many. Canada had a tough time moving the puck with any fluidity into the Swedish end, and Mason had few tough saves to make thereafter. The penalty-free period passed uneventfully.
The Swedes made it 2-0 just 1:47 into the second period as a result of two more errors. First, defenceman Brent Burns pinched in at the Swedish blueline by diving wildly to check his man, falling to the ice, losing his stick, and ending way out of position. Then, Jonas Andersson came down the right wing and backed into the boards as the left-hand shot tossed the puck on net. It beat Mason weakly to the far side, a shot that the goalie has to save, no question.
Andersson came right back 3:04 later to make it a 3-0 game. He took a shot at the point that went wide and followed play to the slot. In the meantime, Niklas Persson scooped up the loose puck and fired it back to Andersson in the slot, and he ripped it over Mason’s shoulder before defenceman Tyler Myers could read the play.
Canada’s coach Craig MacTavish took a time out and replaced Mason with Chad Johnson, but the damage had been done.
The teams played nearly 34 minutes of hockey before the first penalty was called, and that distinction went to Christian Bäckman, but Canada was unable to use the advantage to get back into the game.
Brooks Laich finally gave the Canadian fans something to cheer about seven minutes into the third period. Fredrik Pettersson failed to handle a breakout pass at his blueline and Laich stole the puck, waltzed in on goal unmolested, and deked Jonas Gustavsson beautifully to make it a 3-1 game.
That was as close as Canada came. Sweden killed off the rest of the period to perfection and left the ice with three valuable points.
"I thought they were going to come out and forecheck harder than they did," Gustavsson admitted. "At the same time, we played pretty well. We tried to match them, and we did a really good job."
Canada finishes its Qualifying Round schedule with a game against the Czech Republic on Tuesday afternoon while the Swedes play the Swiss for first place later that night.