Viktor Arvidsson’s first period goal and three more by Sweden in the second sealed the win and America’s hopes to at contending for their first gold medal since 1933.
"We stayed with the game plan the whole game," said Patric Hornqvist. "In the second period we killed their power play for four minutes and we got a goal. Then we got a power play the shift after and scored the 3-0 goal. A few seconds we scored the 4-0 goal and then the game was over."
Today’s semi-final matchup featured a decidedly Swedish crowd at the sold out Royal Arena. For the Americans, it was their first game in Copenhagen after spending the last two-and-a-half weeks in Herning as part of Group B.
These teams met at last year’s World Championships in the Preliminary Round with the USA winning 4-3. In their World Championship head to head history, the United States has won only 11 of 54 games.
The defending champions took advantage of every big opportunity they had to score while neutralizing the American attack. Defensively, they shut down an America team that scored 42 goals in the tournament, including 14 on the power play. Despite being outshot, Sweden made the most with what they had, which was a lot.
There was action in both ends of the ice in the first period, but the USA would have many of the better chances. Cam Atkinson provided the first real chance of the game when he split two defenders, retrieved a rebound of a Nick Bonino shot and fired one off that was saved. Team USA moved the puck well and Patrick Kane was particularly dangerous whenever he had possession. Kane set up Colin White for a chance that was among the best of his early handiwork. Johnny Gaudreau would have the best chance for his side but was stopped by Nilsson when he got his arm out just in time.
Sweden was called for too many men on the ice, giving the Americans their first man advantage of the game. Coming in with the top ranked power play, the USA special team would get to work. Sweden successfully killed off the penalty.
He nearly scored another when Forsberg chipped the puck out of Sweden’s zone and Arvidsson picked it up at centre ice and moved in on a partial break. Kinkaid was there for the pad save.
The Americans were getting the better chances, outshooting Sweden 16-8. However, Sweden made the most of their opportunities and came away with the lead. In the second period, Sweden scored three goals to put the game out of reach.
Charlie McAvoy drew a four-minute penalty in the second Adam Larsson was called for high sticking McAvoy. What should have been an advantageous situation where the Americans could tie the game, instead was the turning point in the game in Sweden’s favour. Dennis Everberg developed a shorthanded chance for that opened the gates. Next up, Mikael Backlund’s effort was followed up by Magnus Paarjarvi who scored as his team was still down a man. His initial shot hit Kinkaid’s skate but the second opportunity was more successful.
As the game moved on, Sweden’s defence tightened up. Kane and company had been thoroughly neutralized before pressing their attack again in the third period.
"We focused on each shift, each little detail matters out there," said Mattias Ekholm. "I think we did an unbelievable job and Anders [Nilsson] played fantastic in that."
Sweden was adept at blocking shots and making sure scoring chances stayed on the outside. Anders Nilsson was strong in net. He made big saves when called upon to earn third shutout of the World Championship. Team USA fired 20 shots but he stood his ground and kept the puck out of the net.
"Nilsson made some unbelievable saves back there," said Gustav Nyqvist. "We got a few quick goals, but it was a way tougher game than the score reflects. They were better than us in the first. I think everyone saw that. Our goalie made some big saves to keep us in it, and we went from there."
At 11:07, Team USA pulled their goaltender and Arvidsson scored his second of the game. Adrian Kempe added another at 17:01 to complete scoring.
"They’re a good team and dothing really surprised us," said Alex DeBrincat after the game. "They’re fast and they have a lot of good players. We were ready. We just weren’t good enough today."
Despite the loss, Team USA, by reaching the semi-final, is guaranteed a top-four finish in the 12-team tournament for the fourth time in six years. It marks Team USA's best-ever stretch since it medaled in six of the eight tournaments it competed in from 1931-1950.
"Obviously, we wanted to play for gold, but because of that we have to stay focused," said Bonino. "It's a bronze medal game. It's a chance to be one of the best three teams in the world. It's something we'd like to get done, and we'd be proud if we did."