It was the first game of the tournament for both teams. The Swiss have now won the last six meetings between the teams at the Worlds. The last Italian win was back in 1995.
The game was played in front of 3,641 at the Jaahaali, not the biggest, but the mainly Swiss crowd was noisy and raucous all the same.
"Last year's World Championship was still a World Championship, but it wasn't as much fun because fans weren't there," offered Swiss captain Nico Hischier. "So it's just great to have them here."
Italian goalie Andreas Bernard was sensational, facing 47 shots. His teammates managed only 14 on Reto Berra. It was a brisk, tame game, the referees handing out only three minors, two to the Swiss. The only Italian penalty came with five seconds left in the game.
"Overall, we had way more chances to score," noted Swiss veteran Andres Ambuhl. "And I guess we played a little bit too fancy once in a while, tried to make the extra pass. But at the end, we got the three points, and that's all that matters."
"We've got to be proud," said Alex Petan of the Italian team. "Coming in here, we felt pretty good about ourselves. We knew this was gonna be a challenge for us. You know, there were a couple of breakdowns we can work on and learn from our mistakes. But overall, I thought we played pretty well. It's always nice to put in a couple goals. You know, we've been working on our power play quite a bit. It's nice to get rewarded at the end there. But we've just got to focus on the next game here. Every day is a new day."
The opening period was one of total domination, and the score would have been much more one-sided but for the stellar play of Bernard, who was left to fend for himself time and again. The Swiss opened the scoring just 49 seconds after puck drop thanks to a great feed by Dario Simion to a streaking Denis Malgin. Malgin burst through the middle and went in alone, beating Bernard with a shot past the glove.
Bernard then took over, providing fans in Jaahalli with a series of highlight-reel saves. He made a blocker save off a dangerous shot from Siegenthaler, stoned Fabrice Herzog, who walked in alone, blocked an Enzo Corvi re-direct from the top of the crease, and denied Timo Meier coming in alone off the wing.
"I saw the D on the blue line, and I knew there were just a couple seconds left, like 20 or something," Ambuhl related. "So I went in front of the net. And he shot and luckily I somehow I tipped it and it went in. I was happy it wasn't a high stick."
The shots were 17-3 in the first, and the second period was more of the same as the Swiss continued their five-on-five "power play." The Swiss skated faster, moved the puck around with a speed and skill that left the Italians stationery, not sure which way to turn, and dominated every aspect of the game. That they scored only one more was the result of too many cute passes and attempts to create pretty goals. Nevertheless, they made it 4-0 at 6:20 off a goal similar to their third. This time it was a long shot form Philipp Kurashev that was tipped in front by Thurkauf.
Italy did manage one golden scoring chance. Luca Frigo got the puck in the slot, all alone with time to spare. He fired wide.
The Italians scored at 8:40 in the third, however. Dante Hannoun made a little drop pass to Daniel Glira, and his quick wrister fooled Berra, ending his shutout bid.
Hischier closed out the scoring for the Swiss at 18:20, knocking in a pass from Meier. But Italy still had one more response. They got a late power play, and Hannoun whacked in a loose puck to make it 5-2 at 18:52.