Switzerland overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period to get to a shootout, but Sweden got goals by Sebastian Collberg and Max Friberg
in the tiebreaker for a 4-3 win Wednesday night in their Group A preliminary-round game at the World Junior Championship in Calgary.
Sweden appeared to be in command when Ludvig Rensfeldt
scored 1:56 into the third period to make it 3-1. But despite being outshot 54-27, the Swiss persevered and made it a one-goal game with seven minutes left when Joel Vermin
scored his second of the game during a 5-on-3 power play. Dejan Kukac then denied the Swedes the three points for a regulation win when he got the equalizer with 2:04 remaining. Kukan, a defenseman who plays junior hockey in Sweden with Lulea, charged down from the left point and beat goalie Jonas Gustafsson to the short side.
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The pro-Swiss crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome cheered on the underdogs through the scoreless overtime, with Sweden's Mika Zibanejad
having perhaps the best chance with 10 seconds left in the extra period. But Switzerland couldn't beat Gustafsson in the shootout. Vermin and Christoph Bertschy missed their shots, while Collberg and Friberg converted against Lukas Meili
, who made 51 saves through 65 minutes.
"We would have liked three points, but Switzerland played a great game," said Friberg, a fifth-round pick by Anaheim in last June's NHL Draft. "They deserved the point for their effort."
The Swedes have five points through two games, one in back of first-place Russia, which beat Slovakia 3-1 later Wednesday. Switzerland, blanked 3-0 by Russia in its opener, has one point. Both teams have two preliminary-round games remaining; the top three teams advance to the quarterfinals.
"Sweden is one of the best teams in the world," said Swiss coach Manuele Celio, whose team has games against Latvia and Slovakia. "Now we know that we can play with them. We have to take the positives and bring it to the next game."
"It’s disappointing to lose, but I think that nobody thought we could win against Russia or Sweden," said Kukan. "The crowd really pushed us in the third and in the shootout. We didn't really expect that. I hope it will be the same in the next game."
Sweden, who scored four power-play goals in its opening 9-4 victory over Latvia, had two more against Switzerland. Friberg, who scored four times against Latvia and defenseman Mattias Backman
, with his first, had the power-play goals before Rensfeldt scored early in the third period.
Friberg opened the scoring at 14:23 of the first period, beating Meili from the slot during a power play. It was the Swedes' fifth power-play goal on five chances in the tournament.
The Swiss tied it with their first goal of the tournament at 5:14 of the middle period when Vermin took a pass from Kukan and beat Gustafsson low to the glove side during a power play. Backman's point blast during another power play with less than four minutes left put the Swedes back in front, and Rensfeldt made it 3-1 when he finished off a backhand pass from Rickard Rackell.
Sweden has a day off before playing Slovakia on Friday, then meets Russia on Saturday in a game that should decide first place in Group A.