Linus Lindstrom, Jesper Sellgren and Erik Brannstrom didn’t register a point, but their impact on Tuesday evening’s game will certainly not be forgotten anytime soon.
The trio stood tall in a long 5-on-3 penalty kill for Sweden that propelled them to a 3-2 win over Slovakia to advance the World Junior Championship semifinals.
The effort was huge for Sweden in a tournament in which teams have been very successful on the power play.
“It was really big,” Alexander Nylander said. “Not letting them score gave us the momentum and we kept going from there.”
Early in the third period up by one goal the Swedes’ backs were against the wall. Isac Lundestrom was called for elbowing not even 20 seconds later Tim Soderlund joined him giving Slovakia the 5-on-3 opportunity that lasted for a minute and 43 seconds.
There were no opportunities to make a change so the trio had to stay on the ice for the entire span. After the 1:43 was up, all they had given up to the Slovaks was a single chance in the form of a Marian Studenic shot that rang off the post.
“I was prepared to kill the whole thing off,” Lindstrom said. “We blocked some shots and got the team going.”
Neither team could find the back of the net in the first period, but both teams had chances early. Slovakia’s Filip Krivosik had a shorthanded breakaway chance early that was turned aside. On that very same power play, Sweden’s Tim Liljegren took a shot from the point that went off the post.
A lot of energy was spent on extracurricular activities in the opening period. Part of Sweden’s frustration was the Slovakia defense that blocked a handful shots, holding the Swedes to only 12 shots on goal in the first.
Play got off to a quick start as Sweden got on the board just nine seconds into the second period. Soderlund stole the puck off the opening faceoff and found Lundstrom on the breakaway for the goal. The Swedes scored again a few minutes later as Fabian Zetterlund went end-to-end and beat two defenders and the goalie before backhanding the puck in with 13 minutes left in the period.
After Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin was called for delaying the game, the Slovaks took advantage as Martin Bodak’s shot from the top of the circle went off the post and into the net, cutting the deficit to 2-1 at the break.
Soderlund connected with Lundestrom again for the Swede’s final goal halfway through the third period.
Slovakia responded quickly as Bodak scored his second goal of the goal as Milos Kelemen sent a pass to the front of the net with eight minutes left. But from then on, the Sweden defense stood tall preventing little offense from the Slovaks including not allowing them to pull the goaltender for the extra attacker in the final minutes.
Lundestrom’s pair of goals Tuesday were his first two of the tournament. Soderlund’s assists were his third and fourth points of the World Juniors.
Slovakia goalie Roman Durny gave a valiant effort stopping 36 pucks in the loss.
Sweden will play the winner of USA/Russia in the semifinals Thursday. Faceoff will be at 4 p.m. at the KeyBank Center.