Sweden prevails to go to 6-0
by Andrew PODNIEKS|20 MAY 2024
photo: Matt Zambonin/IIHF
Erik Karlsson broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal at 1:29 of the third period to lead Sweden to a 3-1 win over France this afternoon. Playing in his first Men's Worlds since 2012, Karlsson took a feed from fellow blueliner Victor Hedman, moved in to the top of the circle, and drilled a slapshot past the blocker of Quentin Papillon.

Andre Burakovsky added an empty netter with four seconds remaining to close out the win. France now has scored just ten goals in six games, a major cause of their having won just once in six outings.

Both teams finish their preliminary round tomorrow. France faces Germany in the early game, and then later in the days it's Tre Kronor and Slovakia.

"It was a hard game to play today," said Fabian Zetterlund of the victors. "They did a good job, and we weren't ourselves out there. We have to be better, and I know we will. They made it hard on us. When we made a pass, we didn't have a lot of time. We have to be quicker and more alert. We weren't dialled in, and they almost had us, but at the end we showed how strong we are and shut them down. It was a good test for us."

"We had a great game, but I feel sad for the guys," said Kevin Bozon. "Every game we work so hard, but we don't get points. I'm really proud of how we played today. I hope tomorrow we can get some points against Germany. We have a new challenge coming soon with the Olympic qualifications so we need to get prepared, and this was the kind of game that will really help. We can't just show up and not play. What we did today was perfect. We deserved more."

The opening 20 minutes was uneventful and tentative, Sweden having a tough time penetrating the stubborn French defence but France unable to generate any offence. Shots favoured Sweden, 12-3, and each team had a penalty, but there was nary a Grade A scoring chance as the battle played out mostly between the blue lines away from the danger areas.

Things started sluggishly in the second as well but picked up steam halfway through. Lucas Raymond opened the scoring at 8:00 off the rush. He took a drop pass from Burakowsky and snapped a shot over the glove of Papillon to give Sweden a 1-0 lead.

The goal sparked the French as well, and they tied the game just 83 seconds later when Charles Bertrand jammed home a puck from in close. That goal ended a very long shutout streak. Sweden had won the last two games between the teams by shutout, and the last time France scored against the Swedes was in the second period of a game on May 11, 2015. That worked out to 166:31 of playing time.

The Swedes had a good chance to go ahead late in the period on a France power play. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fell while carrying the puck out of his own end, and Max Friberg claimed the loose disc and went in alone, only to hit the crossbar.