It took a lot of effort, but Sweden could finally solve Norway’s debutant netminder Steffen Soberg to finish with a hard-fought 2-1 win.
Norway had the lead on Sondre Olden’s breakaway goal until late in the second when Joakim Lindstrom scored to tie the game. In the third, Sweden continued to put the pressure on the Norwegian net, finally winning it on Linus Klasen's goal.
"It shows the competitiveness of this tournament," said Gustav Nyquist who assisted Klasen. "Not many people expect Norway to come in and play well. I think they’ve been playing great. They came in and made it real tough on us today. There are no easy games in this tournament."
Norway switched goaltender heading into the game replacing veteran Lars Haugen with 21-year-old Steffen Soberg, who made a stellar IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship debut coming up big on several occasions and showing a quick glove hand. He finished the game with 33 saves and was named Norway's player on the game.
"It was a great game to play, but at the start I felt very nervous," said Soberg. "But after making a few good stops early in the game, I got into my groove."
Anders Nilsson made his third straight start for Tre Kronor and stopped 13 shots.
Norway started the game with a lot of energy and was successful in stopping the early Tre Kronor attack. Mikael Backlund had the best couple of chances of the period, but Soberg was sharp and pushed his attempts out of harm’s way.
In the first, Norway limited Sweden to only eight shots, but only got credit for one themselves despite two chances with the man advantage.
Early in the second, Norway made it 1-0 after a quick turnover after Sondre Olden picked up a Per-Age Skroder pass in the neutral zone and skated in on a breakaway. He made a quick deke to his forehand before snapping a shot over Nilsson’s right pad, giving Norway the 1-0 lead on the team’s second shot on goal in the game.
"We got a lot of energy from that goal," said Jonas Holos."We tried to just keep on working. It wasn’t enough today, but I think it was good."
After 11:40, Jonas Ahnelov took a hard hit behind the Norwegian net after a race for the puck. He had trouble getting to his feet and was assisted off the ice by the team’s medical staff. He headed immediately for the dressing room, with what Sweden named as ‘upper body injury’. He did not return to the game.
With doom and gloom abound, Sweden finally got something to cheer about with four minutes to go in the second. On their third 5-on-4 power play of the night, Joakim Lindstrom came through for Sweden, scoring his third of the tournament from the right faceoff circle with a quick snapshot that surprised Soberg.
"Even though we go down, we just continue to play our game and put pressure on their net," said Lindstrom.
Seven minutes into the third, Tre Kronor fans could begin to exhale. Linus Klasen banged in a rebound to give Sweden the 2-1 lead after Gustav Nyquist carried the puck to the Norwegian net.
"I got a cross-ice pass out wide from Tim Erixon," Nyquist explained. "It was a one-on-one battle, kind of, and I just tried to break through to the net. I went around and tried to put it back door for Klasen. He was able to put it in so that was nice."
In the last minute, Norway pulled Soberg and came close to tying the time on a slap shot from the high slot, but Nilsson was there to make the save.
For the Swedish national team, Dennis Rasmussen and Niclas Andersen both had their IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship debuts.
"It was great to make the debut," said Andersen. "Maybe we didn't play our best game, but Norway made it really hard for us. All credit to them."