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World Championship

Sweden defeats Switzerland, wins 2018 IIHF World Championship

Forsberg, Hornqvist among players to earn gold medal after early playoff exits

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Patric Hornqvist won't hoist the Stanley Cup above his head for a third consecutive season, but he's not ending it without a consolation prize.

Hornqvist and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017, were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, but the 31-year-old forward won a gold medal with Sweden after a 3-2 shootout win against Switzerland at the 2018 IIHF World Championship on Sunday.

"Obviously this is a pretty good ending to the season for me," said Hornqvist, who had two goals in five games in the tournament. "We couldn't get the third Stanley Cup, but I'm standing here as a winner in the end. My goal was to win.

"Now I have the gold medal. It feels good."

For Hornqvist, it was the first time he has won gold with Sweden.

Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg, who lost to Hornqvist and the Penguins in six games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, scored the shootout winner in the fourth round to give Sweden its second consecutive gold medal.

"It's just a great feeling," said Forsberg, who had three points (two goals, one assist) in four games. "It's tough to describe. I've watched the world championship as a kid growing up. I don't know how many I've watched. To be a part of it is awesome."

Forsberg, like Hornqvist, was a late add to the tournament.

So were Nashville teammates Mattias Ekholm and Viktor Arvidsson, who also joined Sweden after the Predators were eliminated by the Winnipeg Jets in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round.

For Arvidsson, it didn't take much prompting to continue his season.

"I felt as soon as I got the text that I didn't want the season to end the way it did," said Arvidsson, who had three goals in five games. "I wanted to make it a fun end of the season. That was pretty much the message from our team, that we weren't happy with the result over there.

"We wanted to win. We thought that the players here, they wanted to win gold and they wanted us to come and the coaches, too. We felt like if we go, we're going to go at it hard and we're going to try and win. That's what we've done. We've contributed as hard as we could."

The decision was made as a group.

"We told each other we were coming here to win," Forsberg said. "We decided we were going to come to help the guys. We did everything we could to do that. I thought [Ekholm] and [Arvidsson] played unbelievable the whole tournament, too. The guys here before us played their (rear end) off the whole tournament. I'm so proud of everybody."

It's the first time Sweden, who won in 2017, has repeated as champions since 1991-92. The title was also its 11th overall.

"Perfect way to end the year," Arvidsson said. "Maybe not the ending I wanted in Nashville, but this is why I came here … this is why we decided to come here. We wanted to win the gold medal, and here we are."

Sweden, it turns out, was holding some spots open in case the four became available.

The gamble paid off.

"We waited for great players and I think we got some great players," Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said. "Forsberg and Arvidsson, they're game-breakers. Hornqvist is obviously a two-time Stanley Cup winner. He knows what you need to do in order to win. Ekholm, I think, is one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League.

"Those types of players helped out our core players we had earlier in the tournament. We were still winning without them, but at the end of the day, you need those types of game-breakers to win the tournament, for sure."

They certainly helped Sweden, and the gold medal certainly helped ease the disappointment from early playoff exits, too.

"I found a way, and now I'm standing here," Hornqvist said. "I'm really happy about that."

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