Sweden stages biggest World Championship comeback
Kimmo Rintanen and Selanne with his second chased Swedish goalie Tommy Salo to the bench as the Finns led 5-1 seven minutes into the middle period. They where on their way to the most emphatic win ever over their arch-rivals. But with backup goalie Mikael Tellqvist between the pipes things started to change for Tre Kronor. Only 80 seconds after the substitution, Jorgen Jonsson made it 5-2, but he and his teammates barely acknowledged the score, realising full well the Finns were very much in control still.
But midway through the game came the momentum titled heavily in Sweden’s favour, and once it swung there was no way back. Peter Forsberg cut the lead to two at 9:27 and Sweden all but silenced the crowd after Jonas Hoglund’s goal made it 5-4 with two and half minutes still left in the period. The Finns could physically regroup during the second intermission, but mentally they had already lost.
Peter Forsberg scored the goal that was the killer. He took the puck in his zone, charged into Finnish territory, went around the net and scored with a wraparound shot, jamming the puck past sprawling defenceman Janne Niinimaa and goalie Pasi Nurminen. That tied the game, 5-5, and it was just a matter of time before the comeback was perfect. With less than five minutes to go in regulation time, Per-Johan Axelsson’s deflection off a Sundin shot went past Nurminen. Sweden had regained the lead.
The shocked Finnish crowd had just witnessed what was both the biggest collapse of their national team and the biggest comeback effort in the history of top-level international hockey. Only by listening to Swedish radio reporter Lasse Granqvist’s hysterical play-by-play could one understand the importance of this game for Sweden and its fans. This truly incredible come-from-behind victory would have been placed higher on this list had the win propelled Tre Kronor to the gold medal. But after easily disposing of the Slovaks in the semi-final by a 4-1 score, Sweden lost to Canada in the final that became yet another unforgettable hockey classic, further up on the Top 100 list.
About the Top 100 Stories
As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, www.IIHF.com is featuring the 100 top international hockey stories from the past century (1908-2008). Starting now and continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada, we will bring you approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to Number 11.
The Final Top 10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF's Centennial Gala Evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 World Championship.
These are the criteria for inclusion on this list: First, the story has to have had a considerable influence on international hockey. Second, it has to have had either a major immediate impact or a long-lasting significance on the game. Third, although it doesn't necessarily have to be about top players, the story does have to pertain to the highest level of play, notably Olympics, World Championships, and the like. The story can be about a single moment — a goal, a great save, a referee's call — or about an historic event of longer duration — a game, series, tournament, or rule change.