Sweden downs Denmark
by Lucas AYKROYD|22 MAY 2023
Dennis Everberg (#18, left) scores a first-period goal in Sweden's 4-1 win over neighbouring Denmark at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Finland.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin

This Viking battle was mostly to Stockholm’s liking.

Sweden trailed early but rebounded to beat Denmark 4-1 on Monday. Andre Petersson got the go-ahead power play goal in the second period. The Swedish win sets up a showdown for top spot in Group A with the perfect Americans on Tuesday.

"Pretty good game," said Petersson. "They shocked us at 1-0. We had to come back. But I think we did a good job and we controlled the game soon as we scored."

Petersson, Oscar Lindberg, and Lucas Raymond stepped up with two points apiece for Tre Kronor.

Denmark has lost three straight games and closes the preliminary round versus defending champion Finland.

"It's going to be a tough game just like our last two," said Nikolaj Ehlers. "They've done really well in the last couple of years with the Olympics and World Championships."

Coach Heinz Ehlers’ team’s quarter-final hopes are on thin ice after they opened the tournament with three straight wins over Hungary, France, and Austria. The Danes have eight points, one point back of fourth-place Germany.

Sweden outshot Denmark 34-11 and was simply a step ahead in most situations.

In net, Swedish coach Sam Hallam gave Jesper Wallstedt his third start and was rewarded with a third win. The highly acclaimed Minnesota Wild prospect has allowed just two goals in Tampere. Denmark’s George Sorensen, who played two periods in relief in the 3-0 loss to the U.S., tried his best against the odds.

"It’s a game where we didn’t let a lot of shots against us," said Wallstedt. "I feel like we kept them on the outside pretty well. Except for myself, it was tough letting in the first shot. That’s the first shot I saw in two-and-a-half periods. That felt a little bit weird, but it was nice to bounce back and play well for the rest of the game."

Forward Fabian Zetterlund, who scored twice in Sweden's 4-0 win over France, sat out due to illness. Alexander Nylander took his place on an effective line with Lindberg and Dennis Everberg.

In IIHF World Championship history, Denmark’s one and only victory over Sweden was 4-3 in 2021, a Day One shocker in Riga. Nicklas Jensen starred with three goals.

At Nokia Arena, Jensen gave the Danish fans a reason to rejoice on his team's first shot at 3:39. Set up by an Ehlers feed, he scored on a high one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle

Veteran Danes headed to the sin bin, imperilling their early lead. Early in a Frederik Storm holding minor, captain Jesper Jensen Aabo took a boarding penalty on Lindberg. During a Swedish 5-on-3 that lasted 1:30, Sorensen robbed Lindberg and Lucas Raymond to keep it 1-0.

Sweden tied it up at 13:24. Lindberg slid a pass behind the net to Everberg, stationed at the goal line, and he shovelled it past Sorensen on the short side for his third goal of this tournament.

Oddly, the Danes came in with the tournament's top-rated power play (40 percent, 6-for-15), despite not having capitalized with the man advantage since the third period of their 6-2 romp over Austria. They came up dry again during a mid-game 5-on-3, and Timothy Liljegren drew a penalty when he came out of the box and was obstructed on a partial breakaway.

Petersson cashed in on the power play with a heavy wrister from the right faceoff dot that squeezed through Sorensen's pads for a 2-1 Tre Kronor lead at 12:20.

"On the power play, I play with some good players who set me up," said Petersson. "I had a lot of time to go in and take my shot."

In the third period, the Swedes played a patient game. Raymond made it 3-1 with 7:20 left, grabbing a loose puck off the left side boards and zapping it over the Danish goalie's blocker. Carl Grundstrom rounded out the scoring less than two minutes later.

"Sweden’s a great team," said Jensen. "We started off well and gave ourselves a chance, but we didn’t have enough good hockey in us to keep it close. They took off and that was it."

With the result, Sweden’s all-time Worlds record against Denmark improves to 12 wins and one loss.

About facing the U.S., Wallstedt said: "It’s huge for everyone. Also, for us, it probably decides if we’re going to stay here or go over to Latvia, so I think there’s a lot of tension there. It’s a very important game for both teams and definitely one to enjoy and look forward to."