The preliminary round of the 2012 IIHF World Championship continued Saturday as all six competing Blackhawks saw action. Duncan Keith
forced overtime between Canada and the U.S. by scoring a game-tying goal with 1:49 left in regulation, but Team USA captain Jack Johnson found the net in sudden-death overtime to give the Americans a 5-4 victory in Helsinki. Later, Sweden defeated the Czech Republic 4-1 in Stockholm for their second consecutive victory to start the tournament.
The Canada vs. USA game was everything the rivalry showdown was anticipated to be. Despite going down 1-0 just over a minute into the game, the Canadians rebounded with an equalizer less than five minutes later. In the second period, Canada took their only lead of the night on a Jeff Skinner goal, assisted by John Tavares. Johnson knotted the score at 2-2 with a wrist shot on the power play midway through the period.
Patrick Dwyer’s short-handed tally for Team USA kicked off the third period, but Evander Kane answered within minutes to keep the score even. Nate Thompson netted what could well have been the game-winner for the Americans with just under four minutes to play, but Keith kept the Canadians alive with his slapshot from the point to force overtime.
Johnson’s second power-play goal of the night was the game-winner, beating Cam Ward 1:47 into the extra frame after John Tavares took a Delay of Game penalty with one second left in regulation.
Keith tallied a goal and an assist and led Team Canada with 22:35 of ice time. Patrick Sharp, who also skated for Canada, finished the game with three shots on goal in 18:36 of ice time, tops among forwards.
Later on Saturday, four Blackhawks faced off in direct competition: Marcus Kruger, Viktor Stalberg and Niklas Hjalmarsson wore the Tre Konor for Team Sweden and faced Michael Frolik, who skated the Czech Republic. The game was a closely-contested affair, with only 37 combined shots on goal.
Johan Franzen opened the scoring early on with a rebound goal in front of Czech goalkeeper Jakub Stepanek at 2:42 of the first period, and Niklas Kronwall made it 2-0 just 50 seconds into the second period.
A mishandled puck clearance by Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth early in the final frame led to Jakub Petruzalek tallying the lone goal for the Czechs, and Sweden finished off the game with a goal by Joel Lundqvist and an empty-netter from Niklas Persson.
Kruger registered one shot on goal in 15:08 of ice time, Stalberg also had a shot on goal while skating 13:00, and Hjalmarsson played 18:02.
Team Canada will square off against France in their next preliminary round matchup on Monday in Helsinki. In Stockholm, the Czech Republic will face Norway, while Sweden will take on Denmark, with both tilts also scheduled for Monday.