The battle of North America is set at the World Championships.
After the Americans pulled off a stunning upset of the top-seeded Czechs earlier Thursday, the Canadians – coming off their first loss at the World Championships in over two years, at the hands of the Finns – dissected the Swedes with ease to set up a great semi-final matchup with their long-time rivals.
The first period didn’t start out so easy for Canada, as Cam Talbot had to be strong in the Canadian net while the Swedes took advantage of an opposition that was struggling to find its legs. In the Swedish net, Jacob Markstrom kept the Canadians at bay when the time came that they finally found their groove, stopping 11 of the 12 shots he faced in the period.
Only Mark Scheifele was able to solve Markstrom in the first frame, showing off some all-world hands as he deflected a point shot from Ryan O’Reilly – one that appeared to be well wide of the net – back towards the goal and in behind the Swedish netminder.
For as evenly matched as the first period was, the second was all Canada – despite the fact the two teams finished an even 8-8 on the shot clock in the period. The Canadians, flipping the script from the round robin in which they turned in some clunkers of second periods, came out of the intermission gunning for a change, led by Scheifele.
He chipped in an assist on Matt Dumba’s powerplay goal six minutes into the period, then added another on a goal by Brand Marchand that was set up by a clever bank shot off the end boards from Dumba. Sweden head coach Par Marts, unhappy with his team’s play, called a timeout after Marchand’s goal that ultimately proved ineffective.
Just 11 seconds after the timeout the Canadians once again broke into the Swedish zone, this time Sam Reinhart setting up the rarely used Max Domi for a beautiful one-timer that extended Canada’s lead to 4-0.
Talbot, as he did in the first period, turned in another strong period, coming up big on the rare occasions when he was tested. But he had to be especially sharp in the third period as Canada gave Sweden a 5-on-3 powerplay – one that turned into a 6-on-3 when Marts pulled his goalie – but he turned everything aside to keep the Swedes off the board.
Just five minutes after the kill Mark Stone added to Canada’s lead, capping off what was a great all-around game for him that included three points and multiple takeaways. Derick Brassard rubbed some salt in the wound for Sweden two minutes after Stone’s marker, jamming the puck past Markstrom to give his team a 6-0 lead that stood up as the final score.
As mentioned, the Canada-United States matchup is now set, with the semi-final taking place May 21 at 1:15 EST. The other semi-final sees Finland taking on the host Russians in the earlier matchup at 9:15 EST.