MANNHEIM – Matthias Weinhandl scored three goals including the game winner midway through the third period to give Sweden a hard-fought 5-2 win over determined Norway. Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson had a goal and two assists for the winners as well. The game was tied 2-2 early in the third period.
"They have some very tricky players who can explode, like Thoresen and Zuccarello Aasen," Pääjärvi-Svensson said. "They put two pucks in our net. We knew it was going to be a tough game, so it wasn't a surprise."
The Tre Kronor win kept pace with Group C rivals Czech Republic by winning in regulation to give both teams three points each in the standings. It was a game that started out badly for Norway before the team found its confidence and nearly stole one point or more.
Although the Norwegians collapsed as a group around their goalie Pål Grotnes whenever there was trouble, it was just a matter of time before Sweden got on the scoreboard. That eventually happened at 6:43 when Matthias Weinhandl made two great plays.
First, he broke behind the Norwegian defence to take a breakaway pass. Grotnes stoned him on that play, but Weinhandl followed the puck into the corner as players from both teams scrambled into the Norway end.
Weinhandl, however, patiently came out in front and slid across the goalmouth, outwaited Grotnes, and lifted the puck high in the net as the goalie went down.
Two and a half minutes later, they scored again, but the goal was waived off and Jimmie Ericsson was given a goalie interference penalty instead.
Tre Kronor went ahead 2-0 on a legal goal by Erik Karlsson at 12:45 on a power play. Just four seconds after Alexander Bonsaksen took a hooking penalty, Rickard Wallin won a faceoff and Karlsson’s quick point shot snuck through a group of players past a helpless Grotnes.
Although Norway was overwhelmed in the opening period, it was equal if not superior to the Swedes in the second. They got things going just 20 seconds into the middle period on a power play that had carried over. Patrick Thoresen’s quick shot from just inside the faceoff circle fooled goalie Jonas Gustavsson and sneaked between his pads.
The rest of the period was evenly played, although Gustavsson faced the greater number of scoring chances. The period ended with Sweden leading, but a 2-1 advantage that was hardly convincing.
The Norwegians nearly tied the game in the first few seconds of the final period when Thoresen fed a beautiful pass to Anders Fredricksen on a 2-on-1, but Gustavsson got his right pad down in time to make his best save of the night.
A similar play a few minutes later yielded the tying goal, however. This time it was Henrisken, who passed to Henrik Solberg on a similar play, but Solberg made no mistake and, shockingly, five minutes into the period the game was tied.
Two minutes later, the Swedes pulled ahead when Weinhandl made a great deflection off a Pääjärvi-Svensson point shot that eluded Grotnes. Pääjärvi-Svensson closed the scoring by knocking a rebound just over the goal line.
Weinhandl got his hat trick marker on a late power play.
"We made some mistakes that cost us a few goals, but we have a young team, and this is the start of a new era," captain Thoresen said. "A lot of our players are playing in their first World Championship. On balance, it went well, and I'm happy. Even if we lost, 5-2, we played well for 50 minutes."
Sweden next plays France on Tuesday night while Norway plays the Czechs earlier that day.