Canada clawed back to a stunning victory at the World Championships, overcoming deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 to defeat Sweden 6-4, winning their fourth straight in Prague to sit alone atop Group A and win the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Surprisingly starting Anders Nilsson in net over Jhonas Enroth, the goalie selection seemed irrelevant to Tre Kronor early, who quickly got on the scoreboard with an Anton Lander behind the net wraparound goal past Mike Smith for the 1-0 lead just five minutes in. A pair of late goals, first a Victor Rask skate redirect off an Oscar Klefbom shot, folloewd by a Filip Forsberg 2-on-1 laser just 28 seconds later, put Sweden ahead 3-0 after twenty minutes. The potent Swedish defense seemed have finally found a way to shut down Canada’s rapid-fire offense.
Or so they thought. Canada caught a lucky break midway through the second, when a scramble in front of Nilsson resulted in the puck squirting out of the crease, allowing Aaron Ekblad to float in an easy wrister, surely one of the easiest goals of his career, into a wide open cage to put things at 3-1. John Klingberg was charged with hauling down Taylor Hall on a breakaway five minutes later, leaving the tournament’s top scorer one-on-one with a penalty shot, which he converted with ease on a five-hole shot to cut the lead to 3-2. And just three minutes later, Sean Couturier, screening Nilsson, tipped in an Ekblad point shot to tie things at 3-all.
However, the celebration was short-lived, as the pro-Swedish crowd was back on their feet just 56 seconds later, when Oscar Möller blasted a one-timer from Mattias Sjögren past Smith to quickly retake the lead and let the wind out of Canada’s sails, despite being outshot 19-9 in the second. Canada kept up the heat early in the third, with dividends finally paying off when Patrick Wiercioch, receiving a corner pass from Jason Spezza that slid through Hall’s legs (eerily reminiscent of Paul Kariya’s 2002 Olympic goal that coasted through Mario Lemieux’s legs), leaving him with a perfect screen to rip the tying goal over Nilsson.
The tipping point finally hit two minutes later, when new Tre Kronor addition Petter Granberg took Sweden’s first penalty late. On their only power play of the game, Tyler Ennis did not squander the opportunity, taking a Jordan Eberle pass on a rush into the Swedish zone, and rifling a wrister top corner from the top of the slot over Nilsson for Canada’s first lead of the game, with 6:29 remaining in regulation. Sweden was unable to put the heat on Smith that was needed, and a Tyler Seguin empty netter sealed the 6-4 victory for Team Canada.
With the win, Canada wins its 60th International Hockey Lineal Championship, wrenching the title away from Sweden, who ends their streak at six wins as the incumbent IHLC holder coming into the Worlds, defeating the Czechs, Austria and Latvia. This marks Canada’s first reign since last year’s World Championship, also the site of the last IHLC meeting between these two squads, when Canada retained in a 3-2 overtime victory in the Group Round. Canada gets three days off before facing France next over the IHLC.
02:23 – PEN – Savard, hooking
05:06 – GOAL – Lander (Eriksson, Granberg)
17:21 – GOAL – Rask (Klefbom, Lindholm)
17:49 – GOAL – Forsberg (Ekman-Larsson, Klingberg)
26:43 – GOAL – Ekblad (Burns, O’Reilly)
31:27 – PEN SHOT GOAL – Hall
34:23 – GOAL – Couturier (Ekblad)
35:19 – GOAL – Möller (Sjögren, Ekman-Larsson)
36:09 – PEN – MacKinnon, roughing
36:09 – PEN – Kronwall, roughing
50:24 – GOAL – Wiercioch (Eberle, Crosby)
52:04 – PEN – Granberg, hooking
53:31 – PP GOAL – Ennis (Hall, Spezza)
58:10 – EN GOAL – Seguin (O’Reilly)
W: Smith (28-32)
L: Nilsson (34-39)
SHOTS ON GOAL
5+19+15 = 39
14+9+9 = 32
Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Mike Smith. Defence: Tyson Barrie, Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Dan Hamhuis (A), Jake Muzzin, David Savard, Patrick Wiercioch. Forwards: Sean Couturier, Sidney Crosby (C), Matt Duchene, Cody Eakin, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza (A), Tyler Toffoli.
Goaltenders: Jhonas Enroth, Anders Nilsson. Defence: Jonas Ahnelöv, Mattias Ekholm, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Petter Granberg, Oscar Klefbom, John Klingberg, Staffan Kronwall (C). Forwards: Nicklas Danielsson, Jimmie Ericsson (A), Loui Eriksson, Filip Forsberg, Simon Hjalmarsson, Jacob Josefson, Anton Lander, Elias Lindholm, Joakim Lindström, Joel Lundqvist (A), Oscar Möller, Victor Rask, Mattias Sjögren.