SWEDEN (2) vs. CANADA (1) - SHOOTOUT
Team Canada was looking for a three-peat at the 2017 IIHF World Championship after winning the 2015 and 2016 iterations, but the club wasn't able to pull off the feat as Sweden took the gold medal with a 2-1 victory in the shootout at LANXESS Arena in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday.
Sweden's last medal came at the 2014 Worlds, where the club won bronze. The last time the nation took home the gold was in 2013 while co-hosting with Finland. Canada's last silver medal came in 2009 in Switzerland.
The tightly-contested match took more than regulation and overtime for a winner to be crowned, as both teams traded chances in a break-neck back-and-forth that saw outstanding goaltending and plenty of scoring opportunities at both ends of the ice.
When the game concluded, Canada held a 43-42 edge in shots, but the squad was unable to convert enough to take the lead.
Sweden got on the board first, capitalizing on a bungled breakout in the Canadian's zone to take a 1-0 lead with just 20 seconds remaining in the second period. Ryan O'Reilly (Buffalo Sabres) had his pass intercepted and he dove to knock the puck out of his own end. Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) intercepted the clearing attempt at the blue line and fired a bouncing shot through two Swedish attackers and goalkeeper Calvin Pickard for the short-handed tally.
The tight game continued in the third period as Canada countered to even things up 1:58 into the frame after a questionable high-sticking call on Sweden's Elias Lindholm (Carolina Hurricanes). Mitch Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs) fired a shot that Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) denied, but O'Reilly scooped the rebound around Lundqvist, off the goalie's stick and head and into twine to tie the contest 1-1.
The deadlock would remain through the period and another 20 minutes of overtime, forcing a best-of-five shootout to be the deciding factor.
Each team had chances to win the skills competition, yet only Sweden found the back of the net. Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona Coyotes) converted while Nathan MacKinnon, Brayden Point (Lightning) and Marner were denied by Lundqvist. O'Reilly hit the post on his chance.
Despite the loss, Pickard was named the best player of the game for Canada. He finished the match with 40 saves. The Avs keeper went 5-2 during the 2017 Worlds, posting one shutout, a 1.49 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.
MacKinnon ended the game with an assist on the tying goal, six shots and a minus-1 rating in 20:48 of ice time. He finished tied for second in scoring at the competition after putting away 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 10 games.
Matt Duchene had two shots in 17:19 of game action. He produced one goal and 17 shots in 10 tournament games.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog had a chance to put his team ahead in the shootout, but he was denied by Pickard. Landeskog ended the game with three shots in 24:27 of game action. He managed five points (two goals, three assists) and a plus-7 rating in 10 games at the event.
Carl Soderberg did not dress for Sweden for the second-straight match. He registered one assist and a plus-2 rating in eight games at the competition.
Sweden's victory over Canada in the gold-medal game was its first after failing in the past three meetings in the championship final (1997, 2003, 2004). Its last win over the the Canadians was in the 1991 gold meda match.
This was only the second time that the final game of the World Championship required a shootout to decide a champion. The other also included Team Canada, as the squad beat Finland in the skills competition in 1994.
RUSSIA (5) vs. FINLAND (3)
Team Russia jumped out to an overwhelming lead early and survived a late comeback from the Finns to take the bronze medal in front of 16,182 fans at LANXESS Arena in Cologne on Sunday.
Russia has now medaled in four consecutive World Championships. The club won gold in Belarus in 2014, silver in the Czech Republic in 2015 and bronze last year as the host of the tournament.
Nikita Gusev gave Russia the advantage 6:58 into the game, providing the only marker of the period for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Russians scored early again in the middle frame as Vladimir Tkachyov converted a short-handed tally to push the differential to 2-0 just 1:48 into the period. Gusev potted his second of the match on a power play at the 7:01 mark of the stanza, and Bogdan Kiselevich made it 4-0 1:15 after that.
Looking for a spark, Team Finland pulled netminder Joonas Korpisalo (Columbus Blue Jackets) in favor of Harri Sateri, who finished the game. Whether or not the change had anything to do with it, the Finns finally found the scoreboard for the first time with 27 seconds remaining in the period.
Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen kicked off the comeback bid, burying a Valtteri Filppula (Philadelphia Flyers) pass to breath some life into his team.
Mikko Lehtonen picked up Finland's momentum again in the third when he scored just 1:16 into the stanza to make it 4-2. Veli-Matti Savinainen then made it 4-3 when he finished a pass from Rantanen during a man-advantage opportunity.
Having watched a lead dissipate and turn into a loss to the Canadians just one day previous, the Russians called a timeout to settle the pace and attempt to stifle the Finns. The gambit worked, as Nikita Kucherov (Lightning) scored next, pushing the lead to 5-3 with 11:57 remaining.
Try as it might, Team Finland was unable to generate any further offense and fell 5-3.
Rantanen finished the match with two points (one goal, on assist), two shots, a plus-1 rating and ranked second among team forwards with 18:35 of ice time. He had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 10 games for the Finns.
Avs prospect Andrei Mironov returned to the lineup for Russia for the first time since Team Russia's 6-0 victory over Slovakia on May 13. He finished with on penalty in 9:27 of ice time. Mironov registered one goal and five shots in six games at the tournament.
Although a win was what Finland desired, there was some good news for the nation on Sunday. The IIHF awarded the country the 2022 World Championship, which will be held in Tampere and Helsinki.