The winning goal was a classic counter-attacking play. Jeremy Swayman denied Sweden's Lucas Wallmark and the puck dropped for T.J. Tynan. The Ontario Reign forward, freshly arrived in Finland, went racing down the ice with Gaudette in close support, and a deft pass inside set up the Ottawa Senator for a one-timer that ended the Tre Kronor's unbeaten start to the tournament.
But according to the goalscorer, it all started with a misunderstanding. "There was a little miscommunication between me and Ty in the D zone," Gaudette said. "First of all, Sway came up big with that save. Then the puck went to Ty and I realized we could get a 2-on-1 so I just tried to get myself to a spot where I could get a shot off quick and that’s what happened. I like to shoot the puck and I’m just glad it went in."
Gaudette finished the game with two goals and an assist, helping to settle an unusual goaltending duel in favour of Jeremy Swayman. Both Swayman and Swedish netminder Linus Ullmark play their NHL hockey for Boston and the two have shared the workload with the Bruins this season before finding themselves in direct confrontation at the Worlds. For Swayman, 23, this was his second game of the tournament after enjoying a shutout against Great Britain; Ullmark, 28, was getting his first taste of World Championship action having previously been an unused cover goalie in 2014.
"That was unique," said Swayman of his match-up against his friend. "You don’t really get to do that too often, so it was a really fun game. It could have gone either way and he had a great game down there. He was making some saves and I was holding some cheers back at times.
"It was really awesome to see him do well. But at the end of the day, I’m playing for USA, so I’m super happy about the win."
Despite finishing on the losing side, Sweden's Marcus Pettersson was not too disappointed with a point from the game. "It's unfortunate," he said. "We didn't come up to the level that we're capable of playing throughout 60 minutes.
"But hey, we came back in the third and tied it up. It was an even game but I think we feel like we stole a point from that one. We have a couple more levels to play."
The USA, meanwhile, suffered from a shortage of blue liners. Jon Merrill and Nick Blankenburg were both scratched for this game, leaving David Quinn with just five D-men to call on. That led to captain Seth Jones completing a huge 34:37 on the ice in this game. Forward T.J. Tynan, the AHL’s MVP this season, made his first appearance in Tampere, while Vinni Lettieri’s lively performance against GB was rewarded with a promotion to the second line.
Swayman was the first goalie beaten in this game, with Sweden maintaining its habit of fast starts when it opened the scoring inside three minutes. Rasmus Dahlin continued his impressive form at the World Championship when he joined the rush to convert a cross-ice feed from Nils Aman.
That generated plenty of noise from a sizeable Swedish contingent in the Nokia Arena, but Team USA was not without its fans – even if most of them were in Finnish jerseys and hoping for a result that would reopen the door to top spot for the Leijonat. They had something to celebrate in the eighth minute when the impressive Guadette ripped a one-timer past Ullmark from the top of the right-hand circle to tie the scores.
"Who doesn’t love to score goals?" enthused Gaudette of his three-point display. "It was great to produce like that and help. It’s been a while since I’ve really been in a spot like this to help the team win. I’ve really been waiting for an opportunity like that in the NHL and it’s just good to show that I’ve still got that here."
The first period was evenly matched, but at the start of the second Sweden threatened to take control. A Max Friberg interception saw him beat Swayman but the shot came back off the foot of the post. Then Carl Grundstrom had the puck in the net off a slide-rule pass from Jacob Peterson. But the USA bench was quick to challenge the play and, sure enough, the video review showed that Grundstrom had strayed offside as Peterson advanced over the blue line.
"I knew it was tight," Grundstrom said. "I didn't think it was offside, but obviously it was."
Sweden fashioned another good opportunity on the power play midway through the game when Rasmus Asplund emerged from behind the net to collect a pass from Buffalo teammate Dahlin at the back door. This time, Swayman came up with a big stop to keep the scores level.
Back at full strength, the Americans began to contribute more on offence and snatched the go-ahead goal on the power play 62 seconds before the intermission. Guadette played a big role again as his no-look pass unlocked the Swedish PK and Nate Schmidt got on the end of it to roof a one-timer from between the hash marks.
An open and free-flowing third period saw Sweden tie the game – but there was an element of fortune about Grundstrom’s marker. Not only did Luke Hughes’ clearance go straight to the LA Kings forward, he also broke his stick in the process. As Hughes skated to the bench, Grundstrom had the freedom to advance into the gap he left. Jaycob Megna tried valiantly to cover for his young colleague but his desperate lunge could not salvage the situation as the shot flashed home over Swayman’s shoulder.
"I got a bit lucky there," Grundstrom admitted. "Their defender's stick broke so we got a 2-on-1, I shot it and it went in."
That took the game to overtime, where a big pad save from Ullmark denied Sean Farrell and kept the Swedes in the game. Much of the action was at the opposite end, though, with Dahlin posing a threat on both of his shifts in the extras and Wallmark almost finding a way through when the American defence parted moments before Gaudette's game-winner.
For Kieffer Bellows, this was the best performance so far in Tampere. "We played really well," said the American forward. "I thought we came out hard. We had some tough bounces but an overtime win is huge in this tournament. I thought as a team this was our most complete game so far."