Punch. Counter-punch. Sudden death finale.
The Canada/Sweden game had all the makings of a great boxing match. Canada threw a body check. Sweden answered. Sweden had a great scoring chance. Canada answered. When Canada scored so did Sweden and vice versa.
With top spot in Pool B and a bye to semis, you would have expected nothing less.
In the end, someone had to win and after playing 65 minutes deadlocked at five, the game had to be decided in the shootout, where Sweden earned the extra day of rest by defeating Canada thanks to scoring on two of their three shootout opportunities while Swedish netminder Robin Lehner stopped the two shots he saw.
"It was an intense game. It was a fast paced hockey game," said Panthers first-round pick, number three overall) Erik Gudbranson
who finished the night minus-one. "Two very copetitive teams. It goes either or sometimes. It goes both ways and unfortunately it wasn't our day today."
"It was a wild one. Back and forth with goals," said Panthers first round pick (#25 overall in the 2010 NHL Draft) Quinton Howden
who had a goal on two shots and was a minus-one. "Penalties that were called and some that weren't. Just one of those games that had a bit of everything in it. Obviously we couldn't find a way to capitalize on our chances and pull away with the win."
With the loss, Canada will have to play in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
"It's not the road we wanted to take but that's the way that the game goes," said Howden. "You have to give credit to them over there. They're a good hockey team and they battled hard tonight."
"It was a little disappointing. We played a solid game," said Gudbranson. "It's two rivals playing against each other. We battled hard and played a solid game but unfortunately sometimes stuff goes the other way, goes the wrong way. Medals aren't given out today so we're going to move on."
Canada jumped on the board first as 2011 eligible draft prospect Sean Couturier threw one to the net from just above the goal line on a rush. The puck went in off a defenseman 58 seconds into the contest.
Sweden responded with two straight goals. Max Friberg would bat in the rebound on a power play to knot the score 1:16 later. Then with 14:55 gone, they would take the lead when Carl Klingberg worked his way out to the middle of the ice and fired one top shelf over Olivier Roy's glove.
The Canadians, Howden, in particular had a response 43 seconds later. Getting the pass from Ryan Johansen just outside the blue line, the 25th overall pick in the past year's draft bobbled the puck, collected it and then let a slapshot go that got past Lehner's glove.
Sweden had a great chance to retake the lead with 1:32 left but Roy snagged the puck out of the air, denying Rickard Rakell the chance.
A fluke goal would give Canada a lead with .5 seconds left in the opening frame. Johansen took a shot that went high and wide. The puck bounced back off the back boards and Curtis Hamilton slammed home the shot, giving Canada a 3-2 lead.
Ratched up a notch or 12 as Johansen knocked Larsson into the Sweden pipe after he got rid of the puck in the first midway through the first.
The Swedes would recapture the lead with two goals in the first 2:44 of the second period. Klingberg knotted his second of the night 52 seconds in off a scramble in front of the net and then Jesper Thornberg's slapshot off the rush on a delayed penalty beat Roy over his right shoulder.
Canada would respond to Sweden's tally while shorthanded 1:52 later. Making their way down on a 2-on-1, Brayden Schenn passed it over to Hamilton and although it went in off of Hamilton's skate, it was a good goal.
Schenn would give Canada the lead once again 3:22 into the third period when he put home the rebound on the Canadian power play.
|Sean Couturier following Canada's 6-5 shootout loss |
Then Sweden would deadlock the score once again with 8:17 remaining in the game as P Cehlin put a shot above Roy's right shoulder on a rush up left side of ice.
Howden had a golden opportunity with four minutes remaining to give Canada the lead again as he intercepted a pass in the Canadian zone, raced up the ice. With a Swedish defender draped over his back, he let a shot go that Lehner got a piece of.
"I just saw an opening with the puck and I tried to use my speed to get down and I tried to drag it across and the goalie made a good save," said Howden. You got to hand it to him."
Canada has the day off before Sunday's contest.
"The real tournament starts now," said Gudbranson. "The games are for keeps here. Teams are either staying here or going home so the level intensity is certainly going to jump up and the games are going to get a lot more important."
"We're going to stick to our game plan. We're going to keep going," said Howden. "We're going to come back and be ready for next game."