In their game against Switzerland, the power play powered Sweden to the win. It wasn’t much different today as Sweden scored three power play goals and went perfect, yet again, on the penalty kill en route to a 6-3 win over their bitter rivals, Finland. Sweden’s Lucas Wallmark netted two goals and Linus Soderstrom stopped 30 of 33 to send Sweden to the semi-finals against the Russians. As for the Finns, Juuso Ikonen had a goal and an assist while Ville Husso stopped 24 of 29 in the loss, as the defending gold medalists have been eliminated.
Here’s a period-by-period summary as well as a recap for both teams.
About five minutes into the first period, there was no score and no great scoring chances either. Then, over halfway through the first period, the shots were even at five for each team, but neither goalie – Linus Soderstrom for Sweden, Ville Husso for Finland – was tested all that much to that point. Probably the best scoring opportunity, to that point, was a Mikko Rantanen wrist shot that fooled Soderstrom a little, but he did stop the shot, the game remained scoreless. While there wasn’t much action, here’s a fun fact: there are two Sebastian Aho’s playing in this game. A forward for Finland and a defenseman for Sweden. Both are eligible to be picked in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, after Sweden’s Aho was passed on last year. With not much offensively to report of, Roope HIntz of Finland rocked a Swedish player with a big hit along the boards in the neutral zone. Finland finally got a good scoring chance, after a Swedish turnover, but Soderstrom made the save. Then, William Nylander had a partial breakaway, but Husso stopped him after a nifty move. On the breakaway, Finland was caught with too many men on the ice, so the dangerous Swedish power play got to go to work for the first time. However, as dangerous as they have been in this tournament so far, the Swedes were unable to generate anything so the game remained scoreless as the first period neared its conclusion. The opening frame ended with no score and Finland holding a 9-7 shots on goal advantage.
Just under two minutes in, Mikko Rantanen blocked a Sebastian Aho (SWE) shot, this led to a breakaway for Juuso Ikonen and he made no mistake, beating Linus Soderstrom with a wrist shot, 1-0 Finland. Just over a minute later, Sweden’s power play would get a chance to tie the game off of a Joonas Lyytinen interference call. Early on in the power play, Nylander went end-to-end and drew a tripping call, so the Swedes had an extended 5-on-3. They would convert and tie the game, Nylander set up Gustav Forsling for a bomb of a one-timer, 1-1 as Sweden still had over a minute of a 5-on-4 power play. With 25 seconds to go, Lucas Wallmark’s wrist shot from the circle beat Ville Husso, 2-1. Finland would get a power play, looking to tie the game, after Leon Bristedt put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Coming into this game, Sweden had not allowed a power play goal and Finland had not scored a power play goal. Finland’s power play went as it had all tournament, no goals. Just under eight minutes, Sweden took a two goal lead. Robin Norell’s bomb deflected off of Adam Brodecki in front, 3-1 with the three goals coming in a little over four minutes. Just about halfway through the period, Mikko Rantanen’s wrist shot beat Soderstrom over his glove, 3-2. Finland would have an opportunity to tie the game after a Jacob de la Rose tripping penalty. With the extra man, Finland came close twice in the first half of the two-minute power play, with Artturi Lehkonen’s shot off of the post being the closest they came. There would be some four-on-four action after Lehkonen and William Lagesson got matching roughing minors. During the four-on-four, Kasperi Kapanen jumped all over a rebound, buried it past Soderstrom, tie game at 3-3. With 11 seconds to go, Finland’s Roope Hintz took a questionable cross-checking penalty to send Sweden to the power play. Then, during the dying seconds, Julius Honka’s helmet came off and, in international rules, if you don’t come off of the ice right away, it’s a penalty. Honka didn’t do that, and Sweden would get another 5-on-3 at the beginning of the third. Nylander also nearly scored on the Hintz cross-checking penalty, but he couldn’t corral the puck at the side of a wide open net. Sweden held a 14-11 shots on goal advantage in the second period.
Despite missing a tap-in at the side of the net earlier in the power play, Adrian Kempe made up for it with a wrist shot from the bottom of the circle, Ville Husso can’t get across in time, and it’s 4-3 Sweden. The Swedes couldn’t capitalize in the remaining seconds, so it remained 4-3. Finland would get another chance to get their first power play goal of the tournament after Anton Karlsson tripped Mikko Rantanen. With just one shot on the power play, Finland, yet again, couldn’t score with the man advantage. With 11:38 to go, Finland would get a four-minute power play from Leon Bristedt high-sticking Hannes Bjorninen, drawing blood. So, this would be Finland’s best chance to break two streaks and tie the game. The poor special teams luck for Finland continued as they couldn’t score on their four-minute power play, now 0-for-21. The inept power play came back to bite them as Sweden scored to take another two-goal lead. Oskar Lindblom’s shot seemed to surprised Husso, beat him, and it’s 5-3 for the Tre Kronor. With under two minutes to go, Finland pulled Ville Husso to get the extra skater, looking for two goals to tie the game. Then, with less than 10 seconds to go, Lucas Wallmark sent the puck all the way down the ice and into the open net to clinch the 6-3 win, and a date with the Russians in the semi-finals. For the game, Finland held a 33-30 shots on goal lead. The players of the game, from each team as voted on by the opposing coaches, were William Nylander for Sweden and Juuso Ikonen for Finland.
At even strength, this was not Sweden’s best effort. Aside from Wallmark’s empty net goal, Finland won the even strength battle 3-2. It was special teams that bailed out Sweden this evening as they scored 3 power play goals on 5 chances, now giving them 12 power play goals for the tournament on 24 chances. Without the 1-for-6 effort against Denmark, Sweden is an astonishing 11-for-18 with the man advantage in four games (Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland, Finland.) In addition to the red-hot power play, the penalty kill as yet to allow a goal and is now at 17-for-17. If Sweden is going to win gold, it will be on the back of their special teams. I liked William Nylander, Adrian Kempe, and Linus Soderstrom from Sweden.
Finland dominated five-on-five, but they just couldn’t score on the power play. They had a glorious chance with a four-minute power play in the third period, but they just couldn’t snap their streak. You have to wonder, at that point, if it was in the player’s heads that they couldn’t score on the power play and they began to over-think everything instead of just keeping it simple. Players I liked from Finland were Mikko Rantanen, Kasperi Kapanen, and Julius Honka.
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