LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Some days you're the hammer, other days you're the nail.
Sweden goalie Robin Lehner got nailed by the U.S. Tuesday, giving up four goals on six shots and getting yanked just 4:05 into the game. Lehner wasn't the only player to feel the wrath of the U.S., which rode their 4-0 first-period lead to a 6-3 victory, but the goalie got hit the hardest.
In Friday's rematch, Lehner dropped the hammer on the Team USA skaters, stopping 22 of 23 shots in a 4-1 victory in an exhibition game at USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp on the USA Rink at the Olympic Center.
Sweden scored three power-play goals in a 2:15 span in the second period to break open a scoreless game. Anton Lander, Calle Jarnkrok and William Wallen had the goals in the second, and Patrick Cehlin added a power-play goal in the third.
Zach Budish scored the lone U.S. goal, and Zane Gothberg, seeing his first game action, made 24 saves on 28 shots.
After a scoreless first period, things changed quickly in the second. The U.S. committed three straight penalties, all of which led to Sweden goals, and put the U.S. in a hole it couldn't climb out of.
U.S. coach Keith Allain said the game taught his team a painful lesson.
"Certainly the No. 1 lesson is you've got to stay out of the penalty box," he said. "This is what happens when you take too many penalties."
In all the U.S. was whistled for eight penalties in the first 2 1/2 periods, preventing the Americans from generating any offense. Budish's goal came on a nice redirection of Patrick Wey's shot at 11:44 of the third period. It was the only even-strength goal that was scored.
"We took too many penalties," said Allain. "What was the score five-on-five? It was a question of us spending too much time in the penalty box."
Even when they weren't in the box, however, Lehner was doing a far superior job than he had three days earlier.
"You think?" he replied with a laugh. "I played more than four minutes this time."
"I had a bad game," he told NHL.com. "I didn't get into the game good. I'm not in game shape yet. It's early. Then I won my first game against Finland, it was a so-so game, wasn't happy with my performance there, had a terrible game against the U.S. In this age we're in now, it's how you get back. I just tried to focus even more in practice, practice harder. Today it went good."
Lehner knows what's at stake for him. Jacob Markstrom has been the unquestioned starter for Sweden at the last three World Junior Championships, leading the team to a pair of silver medals and a bronze. But his junior eligibility is gone, meaning someone new has to step into the crease. Lehner, a highly regarded 2009 second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, looks to be the favorite.
"I don't go after someone else's steps," Lehner said. "Markstrom has been a good goalie. We have another good goalie here. I'm just battling. I have a good season in front of me. I'm going to try to do my best in Ottawa (training) camp, I'm going to try to take a spot in (AHL) Binghamton, have a good season. If they want me to play for the World Juniors it would be an honor."
If he is the guy in goal, his coach and teammates certainly trust him.
"I consider the goalie by far the most important player on the team," Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson told NHL.com. "You've got to trust him to play good hockey, and if you don't trust him you're not going to win big games. It shows today that we can trust our goalie and he really stepped it up. … It's hard to replace Markstrom, he's such a tremendous goalie, maybe one of the best we've ever had. We trust (Lehner) and he trusts us. So far it's been a good journey and hopefully we can take the gold."
After Lehner was shredded by the U.S., Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg opted to start him again.
"I wanted to see Robin play because I'm curious," Ronnberg told NHL.com. "I see him compete so hard on the practice side, I wanted to see it in the game. It's also good for Robin to get a second chance after his first game against the U.S.
"Every goalie has those games and they have to put it behind them."
Moving forward quickly is something Lehner learned playing last season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, where he went 27-13-3 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 47 games. Playing more games meant learning how to put the last game -- good or bad -- in the past as quickly as possible, because there's always another game.
"You learn to have a bad game and the next day play good again," Lehner said. "You can't let anything be in your way. You have to forget it right after."
Lehner set the example Friday and the rest of the team followed right along.
"I don't think all the guys were prepared for the speed (of the U.S.)," Paajarvi-Svensson said. "We learned a lot and we talked to each other and we watched the game. I think we all just came out and went all together and we really played good today. I think it showed what this team can do."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com