Sweden dumped out in group stage
by Andy Potts|31 MAY 2021
ROC's Anton Slepyshev #58 collides with Sweden's Adam Reideborn #39.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
A shoot-out win for Team ROC sensationally dumped Sweden out of the World Championship after the group stage. Vladimir Tarasenko, on his first appearance in this tournament potted the decisive attempt to give his team the narrowest of verdicts and lift the Red Machine to first place in the group.

It’s unusual for Czech hockey fans to celebrate Russian goals, but Tarasenko’s effort might have raised a cheer among fans from Prague to Ostrava as it confirmed that the Czech Republic secured its top-four finish regardless of tomorrow’s results against Slovakia.

But for Sweden, which misses out on knock-out action for the first time since the format was introduced, it was a desperately disappointing end to an absorbing game.

Captain Henrik Tommernes said after the action that he felt 'empty' - and blamed a slow start that saw Sweden lose to Denmark and Belarus. Both nations celebrated their first World Championship victories over the Tre Kronor.

"You just feel empty here," he said. "We played a really good game, I feel like we had the lead a long way into the third. But then they scored to tie and got the 2-1 goal on the shift right after so it was tough.

"We scored the 2-2 goal and we still had a chance, but in the end it was really tough loss."
ROC vs Sweden - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
ROC SWE 31 MAY 2021
Team ROC’s head coach Valeri Bragin had a special present for his 65th birthday in the form of two Stanley Cup winners available for his team against Sweden. Defenseman Dmitri Orlov and forward Vladimir Tarasenko cleared quarantine in time to make their first appearances of the championship, and they played a huge role in that third-period turnaround with assists on the two goals in 12 seconds that turned this game around.

First it was Orlov, stripping the puck from Andreas Wengerli in centre ice, then outwitted Jonathan Pudas before finding Anton Slepyshev for the tying goal on 12:34 of the third. And, straight from the face-off, Tarasenko got onto Nikita Nesterov’s long pass and teed up Alexander Barabanov to put team ROC in front.

"I don’t know what happened on their first goal," added Tommernes. "It was a breakdown, and then the puck hit their guy in the skate and goes in. And then the next shift, I’m not sure, a miscommunication, and they scored again."

Those quick goals were testament to Bragin’s reshuffle, putting Barabanov onto Tarasenko’s line after the Russians lacked firepower in the second period. It took a little time to pay off as Sweden continued to press in the third, but when the connection clicked, it changed the game.

And Tarasenko himself reflected on a successful arrival in the tournament. "There was a lot of pressure there," he said. "It was my first game but an important moment for us to clinch the playoffs today. A lot of credit to the Swedish team, they worked really hard and played really well.

"It was a hard game we played really well together but there is a lot of areas we can improve. We have time to talk and get ready for tomorrow."

Sweden was down, but not quite out. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Victor Olofsson resurrected his team’s hopes with a tying goal. He sped into the ROC zone and opted for an early shot that snapped over Alexander Samonov and kept the Tre Kronor alive in the competition for a while longer.

Olofsson, too, felt that the seeds of today's disappointment were sown on the opening weekend. "After those first two losses, we kind of had to win almost every game to get to the quarter-finals," he said. "Looking back, those two games made a big difference for us.

"I don’t think we played a bad game after that. I think we battled hard every game and had a chance to win every game. We couldn’t find a way to do it."

Meanwhile, Orlov was concerned that the ROC was unable to see out the victory in regulation. "Letting in that second goal stung a bit, maybe we lost concentration," he said. "I don’t think we can get away with mistakes like that in the play-offs and I’m sure the coaches will tell us about it. We’ll be better and strong in the next games."

In overtime, Sweden held the puck for almost three minutes before getting a shot at Samonov as the Tre Kronor looked to tempt the Russians into an error. At the other end, Reideborn twice came up big to deny first Grigorenko then Burdasov and, once again, keep Swedish hopes alive as the game went to a shoot-out.
ROC was always one step ahead in that shoot-out and when Marcus Sorensen missed the fifth attempt for the Tre Kronor, Tarasenko could wrap it up.

All that seemed far away when the ROC made the more composed start to the game, diligently probing in the opening stages without seriously testing Adam Reideborn in the Swedish net. Anton Burdasov, a team-mate of Orlov and Tarasenko on the 2011 gold medal team at the World Juniors, put an early chance over the top after Nikita Zadorov’s long pass sprang the defence and set up a KHL duel between the SKA forward and the Ak Bars goalie.

However, Sweden got ahead on its first power play of the game, collecting its sixth power play goal of the tournament. This was a play we’ve seen more than once from the Tre Kronor in this tournament – traffic in front of the net, a willingness to shoot and a man alert to the rebound. This time it was Adrian Kempe with the feed, Oscar Lindberg firing in a powerful shot from the right-hand circle and Jesper Froden sliding home the rebound with Alexander Samonov unable to reverse the strong push that helped him stop Lindberg’s effort.

After the midway point in the second period, both goalies found themselves taking a battering. First, Sweden’s Reideborn was bundled into his own net after Andreas Wingerli took out Anton Slepyshev as the Russian forward headed for goal. Then Wingerli ended up in the net at the other end, along with Samonov, after Max Friberg’s rush had the SKA St. Petersburg goalie at full strength.

If ROC had the better of the play in the first period, Sweden was the more menacing in the second and the best chance of the frame went begging soon afterwards when a puck bounced of Slepyshev’s skate and caused a turnover in centre ice. Froden pounced on the opportunity and fashioned a shooting chance for Friberg but Samonov got his blocker behind the shot and his defence eventually put out the fire around his net.

The third frame continued with Sweden enjoying more of the action. Two further power plays helped to deprive the Red Machine of momentum until suddenly the offence exploded into life with that quickfire double.

After Olofsson’s leveller, though, Sweden again had the better chances with Adrian Kempe going especially close after good work from Henrik Tommernes in the corner presented the opportunity. However, Samonov again came up with the answer and the game moved to overtime before the Tre Kronor were dumped out of the competition earlier than anyone expected before the action began.
ROC vs Sweden - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship