Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sweden holds off Czechs

Alexander Nylander had a goal and an assist for Sweden, and Marcus Davidsson and Elias Pettersson chipped in singles for Sweden, which cashed in twice on the power play. Rasmus Dahlin added two assists.

"I think we played well in the first and third periods," said Pettersson. "The second period was the Czechs’ period. But overall, it was a great game."

Swedish coach Tomas Monten continued to ride the phenomenal Dahlin, who logged a team-high 24:05. The 17-year-old Frolunda Gothenburg defenceman also led the team with 20:50 in the 6-1 win over Belarus.

"I play hockey because I love it," said Dahlin. "I’m having fun out there. Why not have fun?"

Filip Zadina replied for the Czechs.

"The first period was bad," said Zadina. "We received penalties and we didn’t compete. That’s the reason why we were down 2-0. We got up in the second period and we tried to play better. I think we did. It’s tough to play against this team. They are so good."

Despite this loss, the Czechs, who opened with a 5-4 upset of Russia, have shown they can’t be taken lightly here in Buffalo. They are questing for their first medal since 2005's bronze in North Dakota.
Swedish starter Filip Gustavsson made 24 saves for the victory, and Jakub Skarek had 32 saves for the Czechs.
The Juniorkronorna carried the play in the first period. Davidsson opened the scoring from the slot at 5:56, converting Axel Jonsson Fjallby’s gorgeous back pass from Skarek’s right post on the rush. It was video-reviewed for goalie interference but deemed good.
On the power play, Pettersson notched Sweden’s second goal with a wicked wrister from the left faceoff circle at 19:04.

"When we got on our power play, me and Nylander changed sides," said Pettersson. "I don’t know if it was part of the plan, but I got the puck from Nylander and I tried to use the Czech player as a screen. It went in."
The Czechs pushed back in the second period, outshooting Sweden 14-7. They nearly got on the board when defenceman Radim Salda rang one off the cross bar near the midway point.
Sweden ran into penalty trouble, taking three minors in the middle frame, and the Czechs, hustling hard, finally capitalized. At 19:02, Zadina’s one-timer snap shot found the twine. The 18-year-old World Junior rookie has scored in both his games so far.

"I’m happy that I’ve scored two times, but we lost," said Zadina. "I’m more thinking about the team than myself. It’s a tough loss today, but we have to prepare ourselves for the next game and play better."

With a 5-on-3 man advantage for 1:35 early in the third, the Czechs had a golden opportunity to tie it up, but couldn't. That failure proved costly.

"It was very important," said Pettersson. "I don’t know if that maybe was their chance to get in the game again and tie it. Our special teams came up big."

The Swedes made it 3-1 at 4:25 on their next power play when Nylander coolly cut in and whizzed one over Skarek's glove. After that, it was smooth sailing.

The next Swedish game is against Switzerland on Saturday, while the Czechs take on Belarus that day. Asked for the key to success against the newly promoted Belarusians, Zadina said: "We have to play faster, move the puck faster and get more shots."
Sweden has won 10 straight World Junior games against the Czechs. The last Czech victory was 3-1 on December 31, 2002 in Halifax, Canada.

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