Adrian Kempe scored twice and William Nylander had the go-ahead goal midway through the second period to help Sweden defeat the Czech Republic 5-2 at Air Canada Centre on Friday in their Group B preliminary-round opener at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
It was Sweden's eighth consecutive WJC victory against the Czech Republic since a 3-1 loss on Dec. 31, 2002.
Sweden (1-0-0) leads Group B with three points, one ahead of Russia.
Nylander, chosen by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the eighth pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, gave the local fans something to look forward to when he broke a 2-2 tie at 10:29 of the second period. Oskar Lindblom (Philadelphia Flyers) intercepted the puck along the boards and fired a quick pass to Nylander alone in front of Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek (Washington Capitals). Nylander ripped a shot past Vanacek's stick to put Sweden ahead to stay.
Sweden scored twice late in the first period. Kempe (Los Angeles Kings) beat Vanecek from the top of the circle with a high wrist shot at 14:46, and Jens Looke made it 2-0 with 47.5 seconds remaining when he knocked in his own rebound after a turnover.
The Czech Republic pulled even in the second period on back-to-back goals by Jakub Vrana (Washington Capitals). A turnover by defenseman Robert Hagg (Philadelphia Flyers) sent Vrana in on a breakaway, and he put the puck between the pads of goaltender Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) at 3:33 to make it 2-1.
Vrana tied it at 10:02 when he was left alone in front, took a pass from Ondrej Kase (Anaheim Ducks) and put a high shot past Soderstrom.
But Nylander triggered choruses of “Go, Leafs, Go!” when he put Sweden back in front 27 seconds after Vrana's tying goal.
Sweden put the game away with two goals in a 2:01 span of the third period.
Kempe made it 4-2 at 5:37 with a power-play goal, and Jacob de la Rose (Montreal Canadiens) capped the scoring at 7:38 when he raced down right wing, cut in on goal and roofed a backhander over Vanecek's glove.