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Europe looks to advance in showdown with Sweden

Team Europe plays Sweden in the last semi finals showdown

by Chris Wescott | Head Writer @TheChrisWescott / Edmontonoilers.com

Will Team Europe continue to be the surprise of the tournament, or will they meet their end against Sweden in the semi finals?

Europe, a combination of players from eight different countries, shocked the World Cup of Hockey with a 3-0 blanking against the U.S. and continued rolling with a 3-2 win against the Czech Republic in the round robin games.

The Europeans have been led in scoring by Mats Zuccarello, who has three points (1-2-3) in three games. But it is Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl who leads the team in goals with two, including the overtime winner against the Czechs.

If Europe wants to advance to the final, they will need more strong goaltending from Jaroslav Halak. The netminder has stopped 105 of 111 shots faced in three games, and has a .946 save percentage and 1.98 GAA.

Goaltending is just as good on the other end for Team Sweden. Henrik Lundqvist has played two of Sweden's three games so far and has stopped 81 of 85 shots for a .953 save percentage.

Nicklas Backstrom leads the Swedes in scoring with a goal and two assists.

The last time these teams met was September 14, in the pre-tournament schedule. Europe crushed Sweden 6-2 to gain their momentum heading into the round robin.

"We played really stupid that game," said Swedish defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. "We turned the puck over way too many times. If you do that against a team with that much skill, it is going to cost you. That is what happened to us."

For Europe, they came into the tournament with very limited expectations. They have surprised at the World Cup of Hockey, but they aren't done yet.

"I think we're happy with what we've accomplished so far, but for us it's not like this is it," said Europe defenceman Christian Ehrhoff. "We have a great chance her of doing something really special and making history with the first time Team Europe has been around. We want to take advantage of that opportunity. We are not satisfied with just reaching the semi finals."

Faceoff is 1 p.m ET at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The winner will take on Canada in a best-of-three series beginning Tuesday.

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