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World Championship

Henrik Lundqvist of Rangers wins debut at World Championship

Goalie makes 19 saves to help Sweden defeat Denmark

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

COLOGNE, Germany -- Jetlag didn't hamper New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in his debut for Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Championship on Sunday.

Lundqvist made 19 saves to help Sweden to a 4-2 win against Denmark in his return to international ice.

Lundqvist and the Rangers were eliminated from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

 

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"It felt alright," Lundqvist said. "Not great. It's a big rink. Timing is a little off. You need a few days and a couple practices. As the game moved on, I felt a bit better. I've got a sense of what we do out there because a lot of it is how we work together. I got to see a lot of that. It was a good win for us. We needed this. It got a little close in the end, but we put it away."

Lundqvist hadn't played for Sweden at the World Championship since 2008. He won a gold medal at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and also represented Sweden at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

At age 35, he isn't sure how many more opportunities he'll get to represent his country in international play.

It factored into his decision to join this year. His brother, Joel Lundqvist, is Sweden captain. 

"Over my last 12 years playing in New York, I've only had the opportunity to go once … a couple times I had opportunities, but I was hurt or [the Rangers] were playing," he said. "The timing has to be right. We're not going to the Olympics [in 2018], as it looks right now. I don't know how many chances I get to play for Team Sweden. I wanted to grab this opportunity. I felt I had more energy after I had a couple days to reflect on the playoffs.

"It's an opportunity to win."

That opportunity didn't come with the Rangers this season; Lundqvist joined Sweden two days after being eliminated by the Senators.

"He's a competitor," said Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who is also representing Sweden. "He wants to win. It's the same for him getting knocked out of the second round. Missing the playoffs or getting knocked out in the first or second round, you want that feeling when you go into the summer. Hopefully we can pull something great off together. It's great to have him here."

Sweden is third in Group A with 13 points through six preliminary round games. The United States leads with 15 points, and Russia is second with 14 points through five games.

A gold medal, Lundqvist suggested, would go a long way to helping ease the disappointment of being eliminated from the playoffs.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," he said.

"It still stings. Someone was watching highlights this morning of the Pittsburgh [Penguins]-Ottawa [Senators] game [from Saturday], and it bothers me still. It'll bother me for a while. You have to be. I'm sure when it's over here, you'll go back to reflecting on what happened in New York. I always do that.

"At the same time, you're very focused on this now."

 

Other results from Sunday:

United States 6, Slovakia 1: Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames) had two goals and an assist to help the U.S. win its fifth straight Group A preliminary round game at Laxness Arena in Cologne. Gaudreau leads the U.S. with six goals in six games. Anders Lee (New York Islanders) had a goal and an assist, and Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings) made 19 saves. The U.S. plays its final preliminary round game against Russia on Tuesday and can finish first with a regulation win.

Czech Republic 5, France 2: David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) had a first-period goal to help the Czech Republic win its fifth straight Group B game at AccorHotels Arena in Paris.

Finland 3, Switzerland 2 (OT): Valtteri Filppula (Philadelphia Flyers) scored at 2:24 of overtime to cap Finland's comeback after it trailed by two goals early in a Group B game in Paris.

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