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U.S. advances to final with win over Sweden

by Adam Kimelman
SASKATOON, Sask. -- When a team misses out on scoring during a five-minute power play, and compounds the problem by committing its own infraction at the end, that's generally a recipe for disaster.
That's just what the U.S. did early in the third period of its semifinal game against Sweden at the World Junior Championship.
Instead, they stayed the course and ended up on the right side of a 5-2 decision to advance to the gold medal game Tuesday against five-time defending champion Canada (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).
Jerry D'Amigo scored twice, and Tyler Johnson, John Carlson and A.J. Jenks also had goals as the U.S.
Anton Lander scored twice for Sweden.
The loss denies Sweden a chance to play against Canada for the gold medal for a third straight year. Instead, they'll face Switzerland for the bronze (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
"I can't tell you in words," said Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Sweden's leading scorer, when asked how disappointed he was by the loss.
It's the first chance for WJC gold for the U.S. since they beat Canada in 2004 in Finland for its only gold medal.
They nearly didn't get their golden opportunity. D'Amigo was leveled by a shot to the head by Sweden captain Marcus Johansson 39 seconds into the third period, and Johansson was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct. Despite having some solid chances, they couldn't capitalize, and with two seconds left on the power play, Cam Fowler was sent off for slashing.
"I thought we had our opportunity to get a goal or two and you don't get it and then we take a penalty, at times that's the difference in the game," said U.S. coach Dean Blais. "It's a huge momentum swing."
Rather than get down, however, the U.S. stayed positive.
"Wasn't down," said Ryan Bourque. "That's tough, having a five-minute power play and not scoring, but we knew we were going to bounce back. We have enough faith in our guys that we were going to bounce back."
They did just that when Carlson scored from the point on a low shot that split the pads of Sweden goalie Jacob Markstrom. Jeremy Morin did a great job holding onto the puck behind the Sweden goal and found Carlson alone at the point.
"I don't know if he saw the puck," said Sweden coach Per Marts. "Probably not."
After that, U.S. goalie Mike Lee played large. He stopped 27 of 29 shots and seemed to get better as the game wore on.
"I've seen him be big," said Blais. "I had a whole year with him, he played 60 games for me in Fargo (USHL) and he was good every game. … I saw Mike play 60 games for me last year in Fargo and I know he's this type of kid and can play this well."
The U.S. got the start it needed when Johnson scored just 1:24 off the game. Kyle Palmieri took advantage of a Sweden turnover and after his shot was stopped, Johnson scored.
But poor defensive-zone play let Sweden back into the game. Lander tied it at 4:17 when he scored off the rebound of an Anton Rodin shot, and then put his team up when he followed Lander and Jakob Silfverberg banging away at a puck in front.
D'Amigo tied the game with a great individual effort late in the second. He flipped the puck around Peter Andersson, got it back, raced into the Sweden end, faked a shot and then fired a wrist shot past Markstrom at 15:06.
Then early in the third he got elbowed in the head. He stayed down for a few moments, but skated back to the bench under his own power.
"Caught me right in the jaw," D'Amigo said. "I felt it a little bit, thought I was cut. It shook me up a little bit but I was on the next shift."
Seeing one of their key players bounce off the deck was inspiring, but not surprising.
"He's a warrior," said Bourque. "I played with Jerry for the past two years on the (USNTDP) team. I know he's a warrior. I wouldn't think anything different than him getting right back out there."
After he got up, he scored the insurance goal off a play started when Derek Stepan forced a turnover at the U.S. blue line on a Sweden power play. Leading a 2-on-1, he passed to D'Amigo, who scored to make it 4-2 at 15:32.
"I thought Derek was going to shoot it," said D'Amigo. "Everybody thought that. He just dished it over, caught in my skate, goalie was down, and I put it right up. Put us on top and sealed the deal."
Jenks scored an empty-net goal in the game's final seconds, and after the celebration, the talk turned to Canada on Tuesday.
"They're a good hockey team," said Blais. "They deserve to be in that gold-medal game but I think we do, too. We worked hard and have gotten better throughout the tournament."
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