Sweden shoots Finland down
by Lucas AYKROYD|15 MAY 2023
Sweden earned a 2-1 shootout win over Finland at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Tampere.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
In Monday's hotly anticipated Nordic showdown, Lucas Raymond scored the shootout winner as Sweden edged archrival Finland 2-1 in Tampere. Tre Kronor remains unbeaten through three games with eight points, while the defending champion Finns have just one win in regulation time and four points.

Raymond slickly put two pucks past Finnish goalie Emil Larmi in the shootout, going five-hole both times. The Detroit Red Wings ace is best-known in IIHF competition for his golden goal against Russia in the 2019 U18 Worlds final in Ornskoldsvik. 

"It was a tight game," said Raymond. "Both teams played very well. It was nice to get the win."

In regulation time, Oscar Lindberg also scored for Sweden. Juho Lammikko replied for Finland.

"Obviously we’ve got to be a little more clinical in our finishing," said Finnish assistant captain Olli Maatta. "I think we need to shoot the puck a little more. I think we’re trying to be a little too cute and I think that's why we couldn’t score enough goals."

This was a physical, tense game of thrust and parry with two dialed-in goalies, plus 12,039 fans going wild at Nokia Arena.

Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen gave Larmi his second shot in net. Larmi, a Vaxjo Lakers star and Worlds rookie, played in the 4-1 opening loss to the Americans. For Swedish coach Sam Hallam, the veteran Lars Johansson returned between the pipes after posting a 1-0 shutout versus Germany on Day One.

Shots favoured Suomi 28-26.

Finland has enjoyed Nordic bragging rights lately as the reigning Olympic and world champions. The Finns also came first in 2019 and claimed the silver medal in 2021. The Swedes haven’t won the Worlds since their back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.

Finland’s top line with Mikko Rantanen, Sakari Manninen, and Teemu Hartikainen combined for seven points in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Germany, but was held off the scoresheet here.

"I think we are playing for each other and our defence," said Sweden's Marcus Sorensen. "We gave them the outside but we didn’t really give them any big chances in the high slot area. We’re calm and I think we played great defence in this game too."

After a hard-fought scoreless first period, the Finns began to press Sweden on the forecheck midway through the game.

Towering Finnish captain Marko Anttila overdid it, thumping Rasmus Sandin from behind into the end boards and taking Finland's first minor after his team had failed to capitalize on its first two man advantages. On the Swedish power play, Lindberg came the closest, banging the puck off Larmi's left post.

Lindberg finally drew first blood with 2:43 left in the middle frame. Jonathan Berggren cut into the Finnish zone and fed the SC Bern centre cross-ice for a one-timer goal from the right faceoff circle.

Uncowed, the Finns came on strong in the third period, in which they'd outshoot Sweden 14-2. And they found the equalizer at 6:47.

A jacked-up Harri Pesonen pounded a shot from the left side and Lammikko whacked the rebound up inside Johansson's right post. It was the first goal Sweden has allowed at these Worlds. The Finnish fans erupted with delight.

Larmi came up huge to foil Andre Pettersson's shot on a mid-period breakaway.

Finland got a power play just over five minutes left. Sweden's Fabian Zetterlund hauled down Manninen to foil a set-up from Rantanen and went off for hooking. Johansson stopped Pesonen's between-the-legs attempt on the best chance.

In the extra frame, after Sweden's Henrik Tommernes got hooked by Joel Armia while executing a spinorama move on the rush, it was Tre Kronor's chance to go ahead with the man advantage. However, the Finns' box play was excellent and they killed it off.

Johansson allowed one goal by Finland's Ahti Oksanen in the shootout, but Oksanen's second attempt hit the post and that ended the game.

"I was just trying to do my best," Johansson said. "I had confidence we were going to put a couple of pucks in. I know we have some great players who are going to score. It’s a little bit of confidence. I’m a little bit disappointed I let two past me, but I finally got a piece of the last one and I’m happy with the win."

The jam-packed arena offered an entertaining atmosphere. In between competing chants of “Suomi!” and “Sverige!”, the crowd cheered for ex-Leijonat stalwarts such as Teppo Numminen and Esa Tikkanen and Finnish film and TV stars like Tommi Korpela and Arman Alizad on the big video cube.

In addition, the home fans constantly voiced their support for Kaarija's song "Cha Cha Cha," the Finnish Eurovision song that just finished second to Loreen's "Tattoo," the winning Swedish entry.

Last year, Sweden edged Finland 3-2 in the preliminary round on Emil Bemstrom’s shootout winner. A playoff rematch between these two neighbours would surely blow the roof right off Nokia Arena.

There have been four Sweden-Finland World Championship finals. Finland won in 1995 and 2011 and Sweden in 1992 and 1998.
Finland vs Sweden - 2023 IIHF WM