STOCKHOLM – Sweden rebounded nicely with a 2-1 win over Belarus in the Preliminary Round of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship here at the Globe Arena.
For almost 52 minutes these teams were locked in a struggle until Fredrik Pettersson’s rocket of a shot gave the Swedes what they needed for their second victory of the tournament.
"We didn't have the speed we wanted through the neutral zone and we turned the puck over too often at their blue line." said Joel Lundqvist, who assisted on the winning goal. "We need to play better, but the win is the most important thing. We got the three points."
The arena was electric for the majority of the night. Swedish fans came to support their team. And despite a little apprehension at the end of the first period when Belarus went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead, the crowd was largely supportive.
Baritone and actor Loa Falkman set the mood when he sang the national anthem and the majority Swedish crowd sang along with patriotic fervor.
There was plenty of good action, much of it generated by Belarus. Andrei Stas and Mikhail Stefanovich combined for a two-on-one with Swedish defender Erik Gustafsson caught as the man in the middle. Stefanovich’s shot was easily gobbled up by Jonas Enroth, much to the delight of the near capacity crowd.
In all, Belarus had 12 shots on goal in the first.
Sweden also had its share of chances, the best of which took place when Alexander Kitarov was called for cross checking. Calle Järnkrok sent a cross the crease pass to Nicklas Danielsson that was stopped. Sweden’s efforts resulted in a two-man advantage but they could not cash in.
Belarus would be the first to strike when captain Konstantin Koltsov trailing Oleg Goroshko, drove to the net when he had the puck, taking a shot as he was falling to the ice.
The goal, coming at 17:34, quieted the otherwise boisterous crowd at the Globe Arena. Goroshko was credited with the assist.
Koltsov and Roman Graborenko combined for seven shots in the period.
Oscar Lindberg’s first of the tournament evened up the match 1-1. Lindberg took a shot on goal that moved so fast it was hard to tell if it was a goal. The definitive announcement came when the play was reviewed.
It was ruled a goal. Upon further review it hit the back of the net and bounced out quickly. The video review revealed the puck had gone in.
Lindberg, whose rights are held by the New York Rangers, was the most valuable player of the Swedish Eliteserien playoffs, leading Skellefteå AIK to their first post-season title in 35 years.
After some third period back and forth, Sweden took the lead for the first time in the game.
Joel Lundqvist won a faceoff in the Belarus zone back to Petterson who sent a blazing shot on net that went top shelf. Goaltender Dmitri Milchakov could not react to it. The goal came at 11:26 and was the game winner.
"There are still a lot of things we need to improve, especially the power play," said Gabriel Landeskog. "We're getting a lot of chances, but we need to bear down and get one or two goals with it."
Sweden takes on undefeated Norway on Wednesday as they attempt the climb back to the top of their group.
Swedish hockey legends Peter Forsberg, Jonas Bergqvist and Nicklas Lidström were at the game.