STOCKHOLM – Host Sweden recorded its fourth straight victory at the Globe Arena Wednesday, defeating Germany 5-2. The Germans remain winless since beating Italy 3-0 on Day One.
Marcus Krüger, Viktor Stålberg, Erik Karlsson, Niklas Persson, and Johan Franzén scored for Sweden, while Henrik Zetterberg chipped in a pair of assists. Philip Gogulla and Patrick Reimer replied for Germany.Click here for a video with post-game comments.
"I think this was one of our better games," said Stålberg. "We played solid and didn't give up too much. There were a couple of turnovers, but other than that, I think we are playing good hockey."
Swedish netminder Viktor Fasth earned his second tournament victory against Dennis Endras, who was selected as Germany's Player of the Game. Shots on goal favoured Sweden 45-17.
The World Championship rivalry between Sweden and Germany has heated up in recent years. Sweden won 3-1 in the 2010 bronze medal game, and prevailed 5-2 in last year’s quarter-finals.
As per normal, this tilt turned out in favour of the blue-and-yellow men, to the delight of the partisan sell-out crowd of 11,500. (Sweden's last loss to Germany at the Worlds was in 1992.)
It only took 1:17 for the Swedish assault to commence. Tre Kronor worked the puck down low, and with his third swipe next to Endras’s left post, Krüger banged it in for a 1-0 lead.
Germany got a chance to equalize near the eight-minute mark when Thomas Greilinger took advantage of a turnover at the Swedish blueline and set up an onrushing Kai Hospelt, but Fasth was equal to the challenge on Hospelt’s backhand move. Later, Fasth was also alert to foil a quick Philip Gogulla release from the right faceoff circle.
The Germans tied it up with one second left in the first. After a great rush by Felix Schütz to work the puck into the Swedish zone, Hospelt picked it up behind the net and sent a centering pass to Gogulla, whose quick shot beat Fasth on the short side.
"You don't want to give up those goals," said Stalberg. "But going into the second we felt we still had the pressure on them and wanted to get the next goal and retake the lead.
The physicality picked up in the second period. In the opening minute, German rearguard Dennis Reul plastered Swedish scoring leader Loui Eriksson into the boards just after he crossed the blueline. Due to a Franzén hit, there was an extended delay 3:19 into the period for a dislodged pane of glass to be replaced deep in the German zone.
At 6:38, Tre Kronor regained the lead. On a one-timer from the right faceoff circle, Stålberg converted a fantastic cross-ice pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson as Endras lunged helplessly across.
Karlsson stretched Sweden’s edge to 3-1 on the power play at 8:14, sending a rising slapshot from the right point past Endras as Franzén provided the screen.
"We felt good going into the intermission after Gogulla's goal, but at the start of the second we made too many turnovers," said Germany's Hospelt. "A team like that capitalizes on that."
The Germans got back into it on Reimer’s goal with 3:02 left in the middle frame, as he skated in, took a drop pass from Christopher Fischer, and fired the puck through the legs of a kneeling Niklas Kronwall and past a surprised Fasth.
Unfazed, the Swedes made it 4-2 just two and a half minutes into the third period. Johan Larsson sent a perfect cross-ice feed on the backhand to Niklas Persson, who simply had to fire it into the open side.
At 8:32, Franzén bulled his way to the net and banged in his own rebound off the rush to put Sweden up 5-2. There was no way Germany was going to mount a comeback after that.
"There's a good feeling in the dressing room," said Larsson. "We keep winning and keep working."
"The thing about today is that the more fancy we play or the more we make things complicated, we don't do well," said Hospelt about Germany's performance. "When we play simple and keep the puck on the outside, we do much better."
With Joel Lundqvist done for the tournament after suffering a facial fracture against Denmark, defenceman Staffan Kronwall was shifted to forward for this game. The 28-year-old is the brother of Niklas Kronwall, and played for the KHL’s Severstal Cherepovets this season.