STOCKHOLM – Switzerland broke open a scoreless game with two goals in the second period and got fine goaltending from Martin Gerber en route to a 3-2 win over Sweden. It was the opening game of the 2013 World Championship for both teams.
"We knew this would be a tough game for Sweden because they're hosts," said Swiss captain Mathias Seger, playing in his record-tying 15th World Championship. "They had a lot of pressure, and we didn't have any. We tried to make the pressure more intense on the ice. It was close to a perfect game for us."
Sweden plays its next game tomorrow night against the Czech Republic while Switzerland will try to go to 2-0 against Canada on Sunday.
"It's just one game, and for us extra points," said Gerber. "It's good for our confidence, but there are lots of games and teams left to play if we want to move forward."
The first period was a scoreless but entertaining affair as teams skated end to end and created several good scoring opportunities. The two highlights were shots that beat the goalie but rang off the post.
Johan Fransson was the first to beat Martin Gerber on an early power play, but the puck bounced off the iron and stayed out. Late in the period, Severin Blindenbacher’s point shot was deflected by a Swedish stick in the slot past Markström, but it also hit the post and went back into play.
Although both teams had to power plays, the Swiss were far more productive on their chances and easily could have been first on the scoreboard with a little luck. As it was, though, the loud and raucous sold-out crowd enjoyed the exciting opening 20 minutes of play.
Switzerland hopped into a 2-0 lead in the second thanks to some weak goaltending from Markström and some great dangling by the Swiss around the goal. First, Matthias Bieber (no relation to Justin) came out from behind the net and whipped a pass in front that went off Markström’s skate and in at 2:52.
Five and a half minutes later, Nino Niederreiter made a sensational deke on Swedish defenceman Niklas Persson to bring the puck to the net, and then his weak backhand went between the goalie’s pads and in.
The Swiss played controlled hockey with greater confidence, but their impressive period came to a bitter end when they incurred two quick penalties and were forced to play 3-on-5 for 90 seconds.
The Swedes were horrible for the first minute, firing great chances wide of the goal no fewer than four times, but finally Nicklas Danielsson teed up a one-timer for Fransson whose blast from the point off his back foot beet Gerber at 18:10 to cut the lead in half heading to the dressing room.
The Swiss managed to keep Sweden to the outside for most of the third period, but the situation became desperate when the home side had a late power play. Coach Par Marts pulled Markström with 1:30 remaining, but Sweden failed to tie the game.
Ryan Gardner scored into an empty net with 33 seconds left to seal the huge win for the Swiss, but a goal by Simon Hjalmarsson just 11 seconds later made for a dramatic ending all the same.
"We took too many penatlies and made too many mistakes," said Niederreiter, "but our penalty killing was good, and overall we played well."