Sweden Advances to Semi’s, But Lose to North America

Sweden Advances to Semi’s, But Lose to North America

Steven Ellis21 Sep 2016Steven Ellis»
 

Sometimes the best hockey games require more than 60 minutes, and that's exactly what fans got as North America finished off an action-packed contest with a 4-3 victory over Sweden.

 
 
 
 

Sometimes the best hockey games require more than 60 minutes, and that's exactly what fans got as North America finished off an action-packed contest with a 4-3 victory over Sweden.

The first two minutes was filled with absolute mayhem. Just 30 seconds in, Connor McDavid split through two defensemen before getting the puck to Auston Matthews. Matthews would fall, but still managed to keep the puck alive before passing to Morgan Rielly. Rielly sent the puck right back to Matthews, who had an open cage for the easy 1-0 goal, one that wasn't lost by the many Toronto Maple Leafs fans in attendance.

Then, 26 seconds later, North America had another good chance to score. This time, Johnny Gaudreau was interfered with on the breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot. Gaudreau would miss the net, but his young team would add another goal an extra 40 seconds after that. This time, Vincent Trocheck took a slap pass in front from Shayne Gostisbehere before using a quick deke to fool a falling Henrik Lundqvist and send it into the back of the net to make it 2-0 early.

But Sweden wasn't interested in letting the kids walk all over them. At 8:24, Filip Forsberg took a good pass from Patric Hornqvist before wiring it over John Gibson. Gibson got a piece of it, but it wasn't enough as Sweden was on the board.

Gaudreau had multiple breakaway chances in the game, and one of them proved to be successful. At the 13 minute mark of the game, Gaudreau blew past Oliver Ekman-Larsson before going in all alone on Lundqvist, beating him with a quick deke to make it 3-1.

Sweden would fight back and add another one, however. With four minutes left in the opening period, Nicklas Backstrom would bring Sweden close again with a quick wrist shot that Gibson couldn't stop from 25 feet out.

It would take until the third period for one of the teams to find the back of the net again. To make things exciting, Sweden tied the game up at three apiece after Patrik Berglund tipped in a point shot from Erik Karlsson, tying the game up at three and forcing the game into overtime.

The overtime saw some of the best action of the tournament, with some fans considering it one of the best overtimes of all time. Both teams had good scoring chances at each end, with Lundqvist making a huge toe save late, only to have Gibson make a breakaway stop with just over a minute left. But it would be a great play by Nathan MacKinnon to force a turnover in the offensive zone before deking the pants off of Lundqvist for potentially the best goal of the tournament that would allow North America the victory and a chance to keep their semi-final hopes alive.

What was MacKinnon thinking coming in for the breakaway goal?

"I was pretty tired actually," MacKinnon said. "That was my first thought when I got the puck. It was in my feet, so I didn't want to mess it up."

Winnipeg Jets forward and North America forward Mark Scheifele was very upbeat about the game itself."It was a lot of fun, Scheifele said." When it's that back and forth, with big saves on both ends, it was an exciting game to be a part of."

Karlsson was amazed by North America's speed, but knew Sweden would have to change their playing style to be able to keep up with the action.

"We had no choice. We had to," Karlsson said. "Otherwise it was going to be a disaster."

When asked about his thoughts of Team North America, even if they don't advance to the semi-finals, McDavid was very positive about the experience.

"I think we've definitely turned some heads and opened the eyes of everyone to what the future of the NHL will be," McDavid said.

Despite the win, North America's hopes reside in the hands of Finland, who currently are without a victory in the tournament. If Russia wins in regulation, they'll eliminate North America on the basis of head-to-head play, where Russia beat North America earlier in the tournament. If not, North America will join Sweden in the semi's, as the Tre Kronor were able to clinch a spot with a point on Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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