For Denmark tonight marks its first ever IIHF World Championship game on home ice and against a formidable opponent in the 2018 Winter Olympic silver medalist, Germany. On this historic occasion, Denmark began its World Championship quest in front of a capacity crowd that was very supportive of everything their national team was doing on the ice.
Both teams played a tenacious but scoreless first period of hockey. Germany outshot Denmark 11-9 but the home side took the play to their opponents.
"The first 20 minutes wasn't so good," Jonas Muller said of Germany's effort. "That's not how we want to play. We want to put more pucks to the net. After the first, we played better, but the special teams made the difference today. They came with a lot of speed in the first, and outplayed us, and after that it was an even game."Early in the period, German goaltender Tino Pielmeier misplayed a puck behind his net that allowed Denmark to gain control. Julian Jakobson was able to get off a shot but Pielmeier redeemed himself by making a clutch save.
On the other end, Frederik Andersen was holding his own. Frederik Tiffels raced in and sent a shot on net that struck Anderson’s shoulder and over the net.
In the second period the game opened up and both teams would find the back of the net. Denmark would come out of the period ahead because of two power play goals.
Yannic Seidenberg was whistled off for hooking, giving Denmark its first power play of the game. Denmark moved the puck looking to develop a quality chance. Patrick Bjorkstrand beat a defender in the offensive zone and broke in alone but his eventual shot sailed wide right. A great play by Bjorkstrand that was only missing the finish.
But with twenty seconds remaining in the penalty, Jesper Jensen scored. Jensen’s goal was scored from the faceoff circle to the left of the German net. With that, the decidedly Danish crowd was more excited than at the first drop of the puck.
A second Danish power play in the middle period was highlighted by quick puck movement and shots on goal. Denmark charged the net again as Jesper Jensen had two chances to get his second goal of the game. Then as time was winding down on the penalty, Nichlas Hardt beat two German defenders to the puck sending a blind backhand pass in front. Frederik Storm the puck and scored an uncontested goal.
Denmark was surging by the third period and it would appear their confidence had grown considerably since the start of the game. Still, it was a 2-1 game and plenty of chances for Germany to bounce back.
With 9:17 remaining in the game, Ehliz sent a shot on goal that Andersen could not handle. The puck hit him on the upper left arm and bounced into the net. Draisaitl picked up the assist and his second point of the game.
Germany almost got another less than a minute later as they raised their game and played with more speed and a sense of urgency.
"We gave them a bunch of easy chances, especially in the third." Madsen said. "Freddy was good in the net. It was a tight game. It went back and forth."
Nicklas Jensen had a glorious opportunity to re-establish a lead. Credit to Peter Regin who did the hard work in taking on three German defenders behind the net to win the puck and get a pass to Jensen who was alone in front but was stonewalled by Pielmeier.
The period wound down with Denmark carrying a 1:45 power play into the extra frame. The Danes continued to move the puck around and collapsed the German shorthanded box but still could not convert.
In the shootout, Frans Nielsen scored in the second round and Andersen stopped all five shots he faced.
Today’s result gives Denmark a great start to the tournament. This was a game they needed as the top deck of the group is stacked with Canada, Finland and the United States. If there is a chance to move into the round of eight- although there is still a lot of hockey to play- these are the games Denmark must win.
On this night, the pride of the entire country could be felt when the Danish flag was raised and the national anthem played. Tonight, they are heroes.