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Larsson sees his first action for Sweden in World Junior Summer Showcase

Detroit prospect looks sharp in goal despite 3-2 loss to Team USA

by Arthur J.Regner @arthurjregner / DetroitRedWings.com

PLYMOUTH, MICH. - Until he skated onto the ice on Wednesday afternoon as Sweden's starting goalie against Team USA, there was some doubt that Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson would see any playing time in the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena.

Larsson wasn't even sure if he'd ever get the nod in net for Team Sweden, but after Team USA downed Sweden 3-2, Swedish head coach Tomas Moten told reporters Larsson was always penciled in to get at least one start.

"We have three goalies and we've traveled this far and we feel we wanted to have three goalies," Moten said. "We think it's a little bit risky just going with two.

"It was his first game and I thought he was good. He made a big save for us in the end to keep us in the game.

"I know he's going to play over here (in North America) and I think it's going to help him to fight for a spot playing on the smaller rinks. He's been good in practice and he looked really good today."

Drafted by the Wings in the sixth round, 167th overall, in the 2016 draft, Larsson made the decision to leave Sweden after playing for Djurgarden's junior team last year.

During development camp in Traverse City, he said that he wanted to play in North America because it is his goal to play in the NHL, a goal which he knows is going to be a long haul.

"For me, I'm taking the USHL year first and after that maybe think of going to college, so I think it's a long way for me to come to the NHL," Larsson said during development camp.

In Wednesday's game, he faced 22 shots, making 19 saves and even though he was on the losing end, he was impressive in defeat.

"He has actually played pretty well. Those are Grade-A scoring chances. I don't know if he had any chance on all three," said Detroit assistant general manager Ryan Martin during the intermission between the second and third periods of Wednesday's game. "I know they gave the third one to (Quinn) Hughes, I actually thought it got deflected when it got to him, but outside of that he's had to make two or three other real big saves, so really good anticipation, he's square and set on most shots. He reads the play really well.

"I think he uses what I think is an above average frame to his advantage; he moves well. He has played well, it's too bad they had a couple of breakdowns in front of him and a funny bounce on the second one where (Kailer) Yamamoto is wide open for the backdoor shot. All in all, I think he's been good."

Larsson spoke to the European media after the game, but he was whisked away by Swedish officials before he had the chance to address the English-speaking press.

Being Swedish, Larsson is obviously happy to be a Red Wings prospect.

During development camp, he expressed what it meant to be drafted by the Wings and to hopefully be part of the Detroit-Sweden connection someday.

"It's super cool. We have many Swedes here, like (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Nick) Lidstrom and those are legends over in Sweden," Larsson said up in Traverse City. "They have played many years here so it's obviously one of the big teams that everybody knows back home in Sweden so it was a huge honor to be drafted by them."

PETRUZELLI WITH ANOTHER STELLAR PERFORMANCE: As of Wednesday, Team USA became one team, trimming their roster to 34 players and saying goodbye to Team USA White and Blue.

Team USA officials decided to keep all four goaltenders on their roster, which meant Detroit prospect Keith Petruzzelli would get to continue to wear the red, white and blue.

Petruzzelli was pumped to still be part of the team. He played the first half of Wednesday's game, surrendering one goal on the 16 shots he faced in his period and a half of work.

"I thought he played even better than he did the other day (a 4-1 victory over Finland on Sunday)," Martin said. "He had a little bit of a busy start the last game that he played, I thought he was a little too active not letting the game come to him; he wasn't very efficient.

"Today I thought he was really efficient, he controlled his movements well, he wasn't overly busy. He had a couple of tough deflection shots to make early before the U.S. could kind of get into the game offensively. I think he helped them with a couple of big saves. I thought he did very well."

Petruzzelli, Detroit's third-round pick, 88th overall in this year's draft, agreed with Martin's assessment.

"I felt really good out there today," Petruzzelli said. "I felt really calm and composed, my rebound control was there and I felt I was making saves look easy, too. I would definitely say it was my best performance so far."

Sweden came out of the gate quickly and Petruzzelli found himself under siege early in the game.

"It was nice to find a rhythm. I don't mind seeing a lot of shots early," Petruzzelli said. "It helps you get into the flow of the game and get a feel for the puck. It helps you calm down."

He admits he was nervous, not knowing if he would make the cut or not, but U.S. officials didn't keep him in limbo for very long.

"I received a text last night saying that Dylan (St. Cyr) and me were splitting the game," Petruzzelli said. "It was a relief, it was nice to get that text the night before and going into the meeting this morning I was all set.

"It was good."

LINDSTROM STILL ADJUSTING, SEES TIME AT LEFT WING: When he was drafted by the Wings in this year's draft in the second round, 38th overall, Gustav Lindstrom was said to be a quick study.

After Wednesday's game, just his third on the smaller ice surface, Lindstrom lived up to his reputation. He played extremely well.

"It's getting better and better every day, every game," Lindstrom said about adjusting to the smaller rink. "The timing is getting better; the gap control is a little bit different on the smaller ice, but that's getting better every game. Hopefully it continues."

He may be getting more comfortable on the smaller ice surface but he still needs to improve on his decision making with the puck, actually before he has the puck.

"In some situations, you feel you have less time with the puck," Lindstrom said. "Before you get the puck you have to know what you're going to do with it. That's the biggest difference.

"On the power play you have to be quicker with the puck, that's the biggest difference about the smaller ice."

Sweden used an umbrella formation on their power play against the Americans, making Lindstrom a left wing, a position which was more foreign to him than playing on a smaller rink.

"I'm not used to playing left wing on the power play," Lindstrom said. "But it's getting better and better. Today I feel more comfortable on the left wing.

"When I play the power play back home in Sweden, I'm point, it's kind of different, but hopefully it will get better."

Photo of Filip Larsson by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings.

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