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Canada opens 3-2 lead over Sweden in wild first period

by Mike G. Morreale /
If the finish is anything like the start, Canada and Sweden will provide the capacity crowd here at HSBC Arena quite a show in the final preliminary-round game for both teams before playoffs in the World Junior Championship begin on Sunday.

The opening 20 minutes produced plenty of excitement, including five goals, bit hits and some suspect goaltending.

Team Canada took its second lead of the first, 3-2, with 0.5 seconds remaining on one of the strangest goals of the tournament. Following some great defensive work by Jared Cowen in his own end, Brayden Schenn fed Ryan Johansen down right wing. Johansen entered the zone and ripped a shot that hit the glass to goalie Robin Lehner's right. The puck bounced out in front to Curtis Hamilton, who jammed the attempt past the stunned goalie.

Canada had pulled into a 2-2 tie when Quinton Howden scored off a harmless-looking shot from the top of the left circle that was misplayed by Lehner. Howden's shot clipped the left catching glove of Lehner before trickling over the goal line at 15:38. The Swedes had taken their first lead just 43 seconds earlier when Carl Klingberg connected.

Team Canada opened a 1-0 lead just 58 seconds into the game when Sean Couturier's blast down his right wing deflected off the left leg of Swedish defenseman Klas Dahlbeck past goalie Robin Lehner. Canada's Marcus Foligno was crashing the crease at the time of the goal, forcing Dahlbeck to skate hard into the paint and interfere with the puck. It was the first goal allowed by Lehner, a prospect of the Ottawa Senators, in two games in the tournament -- he shut out Russia on Tuesday on 30 saves.

Sweden answered Canada's early goal at the 2:14 mark when Max Friberg showcased some fine hand-eye coordination by batting in a shot from the right hashmark. The first also featured a huge hit by Columbus Blue Jackets' Johansen on top 2011 draft-eligible defenseman Adam Larsson, who was literally thrown into his own goal post immediately after Sweden's first goal.

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