In a rematch of the preliminary round, the result was different this time around as Russia defeated Sweden when it mattered, 4-1. Russia shut down the Swedes at even strength and on the power play. They also scored the first power play goal on the Swedes, which turned out to be the game-winner. Linus Soderstrom stopped 27 of 31 in a losing effort, while Ilya Sorokin saved 26 of 27. Russia will play the winner of Canada/Slovakia for gold, while Sweden gets the loser in the bronze medal game.
Here’s your period-by-period summary with recaps for both sides:
The first chance of the game came for Russia, as Alexander Bryntsev rang a slap shot off the post, but it stayed out, with just over 13 minutes to play in the first. A scary moment with just under six minutes to go in the opening period as Swedish defenseman William Lagesson was driven into the boards, from behind, by Russian forward Maxim Mamin. Lucky for the Russians, Mamin only received a two-minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct. However, the Swedes couldn’t capitalize on their first power play. The first period ended in a scoreless tie with Russia holding a 12-6 shots on goal advantage.
Russia got an early power play, but it was quickly negated by a Sergei Tolchinski high-sticking penalty, two penalties in the first minute of the second period. With under nine minutes to go, Alexander Dergachyov carried the puck through the neutral zone, made a pretty drop pass to Anatoli Golyshev and he brought it into the Swedish zone, passed it over to Alexander Sharov and his wrist shot from the circle beat Linus Soderstrom to give Russia a 1-0 lead. The climb got harder for the Swedes after an Anton Blidh penalty. Ziat Paigin took a pass from Rinat Valiev and blasted a one-timer by Soderstrom to give Russia a 2-0 advantage. That was the first power play goal Sweden had conceded all tournament. Russia nearly took a 3-0 advantage, twice. First, Alexander Dergachyov drove hard to the net and put the puck over the goal line. But, the net came off and he was pushed into Soderstrom by Jacob de la Rose, so the goal was waved off. Second, Vyacheslav Leshenko was sprung on a breakaway by Ivan Barbashyov, but the shot just hit Soderstrom’s glove and went wide. The second period ended with Russia maintaining their 2-0 lead and held a 8-6 advantage in shots for the period.
Early in the third, Russia scored again. Sebastian Aho blew a tire behind the net which allowed Maxim Mamin to find Alexander Sharov wide open in the slot and his shot beat Soderstrom up high. As time started to become a factor for the Swedes, the Russians stayed aggressive and pressured the Swedes in the neutral zone, not allowing them to get into the Russians end and generate offense. Sweden finally got on the board with 8:30 left as Lucas Wallmark with a pretty, pretty play in front of the net to shoot the puck between his legs and put it five-hole on Ilya Sorokin to cut the lead to 3-1. It was quickly a three goal game once again. Ivan Fishenko and Maxim Mamin came in on a two-on-one, Fishenko’s shot was stopped but Soderstrom allowed a big rebound, which Mamin buried, 4-1 Russia. With just under four minutes to go, Sweden pulled Soderstrom for the extra attacker. However, it proved futile as Russia picked up a 4-1 win and clinched a spot in the gold medal game. Russia out shot the Swedes 30-23. Linus Soderstrom (SWE) and Alexander Sharov (RUS) were the player’s of the game for each team.
This was easily Sweden’s worst game since their pre-tournament games. Coming in to this game, they had been living on their special teams and even that failed them today. In the end, Russia just outplayed them in every facet. For the Swedes, 12 of the players on this roster can return in next year’s tournament. Looking back on it, not many people expected Sweden to do as well as they did; going undefeated in the preliminary round and playing for a medal. This wasn’t nearly as good of a team as last year’s group, but they still managed to make this a successful tournament, even if they don’t win the bronze. If you’re a fan of good hockey, watch Sweden next year.
Russia dominated Sweden from start to finish. This was a much different performance than the one I saw vs. Sweden in the preliminary round. Russia looked like a complete team and will be a challenge for either Canada or Slovakia in the gold medal game.
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