The preliminary round of the IIHF World Championship continued today as all six Blackhawks participants saw action for their home countries. In Helsinki, Patrick Sharp
was named Best Player in Team Canada’s 7-2 victory over France after a five-point performance, while Michael Frolik
scored his first goal of the tournament as the Czech Republic downed Norway 4-3 in a shootout in Stockholm. Then, host Sweden defeated Denmark 6-4, getting a pair of goals by Viktor Stalberg
, with Marcus Kruger
contributing primary assists on both tallies and Niklas Hjalmarsson
adding a helper as well.
Sharp tallied a team-high five points (1G, 4A) in 16:51 of ice time while skating alongside Edmonton Oilers rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. That line produced five goals and totaled 11 points in Canada’s third tournament outing.
In a team-high 20:45 of ice time, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith racked up his fourth point in three preliminary-round contests with an assist on Jordan Eberle’s goal in the second period.
The Czech Republic survived a scare against a spirited Norway team, who cashed in on a 5-on-3 power play in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Oilers winger Ales Hemsky tied the score at 1-1 late in the period, but Norway scored just 1:39 into the second period, forcing the Czechs to play from behind for most of the middle frame before Boston center David Krejci again knotted the score.
Frolik gave the Czechs their first lead of the game with a sniper's goal from the bottom of the faceoff circle, but Norway fought back to force overtime. He finished the game with a team-high five shots on goal in 14:36 of ice time.
Though the Czech Republic held a 4-0 shot advantage in the extra frame, the game ultimately would be decided in a shootout. Hemsky tallied the game-decider in the first round of the shootout, as Czech goalie Jakub Kovar stopped all three Norwegian attempts to preserve the 4-3 victory.
Team Sweden jumped to a 4-0 lead over Denmark in the first period and never looked back in a comfortable effort. Both of Stalberg's tallies came early in the game, as he opened the scoring for Sweden at the 2:06 mark. The goal was assisted by fellow Blackhawks Kruger and Hjalmarsson. Stalberg struck a second time at 11:43 of the first period, perfectly executing a 2-on-1 rush with Kruger. Stalberg finished the game with five shots on net and a +2 plus/minus rating in 12:22. Kruger saw 13:50 of ice time and was also +2, and Niklas Hjalmarsson skated a team-high 22:38.
Sweden controlled play throughout the game, outshooting Denmark 42-18, including a 21-6 edge in the opening frame. The Danes scored three unanswered goals to narrow the gap to 6-4 in the third period, but the Swedes held on for their third consecutive victory in the preliminary round. Dallas winger Loui Eriksson also recorded two goals in the game, and Jonas Brodin and Daniel Alfredsson rounded out the scoring for Team Sweden.
Team Canada's next game will be against Switzerland on Wednesday, May 9, and Sweden will take on Germany later that day. The Czech Republic will face Latvia on May 10.