Lundqvist Avenges Early Exit in Stanley Cup Playoffs, Guides Sweden to IIHF Gold Medal

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COLOGNE, GERMANY — Henrik Lundqvist had a lot to process after a devastating loss to the Ottawa Senators, eliminating the Swedish netminder and his New York Rangers in the quarterfinals of the NHL Eastern Conference playoff race.

The most dominant European goaltender in NHL history, Lundqvist had to quickly forget the Rangers’ demise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and shifted his focus and attention to Team Sweden in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championships.

As “The King” had so often done in his career, Lunqvist turned a setback into a triumph.

Sweden was able to rid its demons and knock off two-time defending world champion Team Canada, 2-1, in an unforgettable performance in a shootout to take home the IIHF Gold Medal on Sunday afternoon at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.

“It’s a great feeling,” Lundqvist said. “When I left New York I was very disappointed in the way it ended there. I also saw this as a big opportunity for me to come and play for my country and play with my brother. I don’t know how many more chances I’ll get. This was the goal, the dream. I pictured this. We had the team for it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to come here and help the team to do it.”

Canada goalie Calvin Pickard congratulates Sweden’s goalie Henrik Lundqvist after the IIHF Men’s World Championship Ice Hockey final game in Cologne, Germany, on May 21, 2017. Sweden won 2-1. (Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

A veteran of 12 NHL seasons, Lundqvist is the only goaltender in league history to begin his first 11 seasons with at least 30 victories. But despite the impressive winning percentage, Lord Stanley’s Cup has eluded him. Lundqvist reigned high atop the throne on the world stage, however, as the difference-maker throughout the tournament leading up to the gold medal game and in the shootout.

King Henrik finished with 42 saves and stopped all four shootout attempts to give his countrymen the top prize.

With the game tied 1-1 after regulation, on goals by Victor Hedman for Sweden and Ryan O’Reilly for Canada, Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larson both scored in the shootout for Sweden while Lundqvist halted Nathan MacKinnon, Braydon Point, O’Reilly and Mitch Marner in succession to give his team their 10th World Championship Gold Medal and first since 2006.

“You try to stay in the moment,” Lundqvist said. “That’s the key. Don’t get ahead of yourself, even when you start scoring and you can just feel we’re getting closer and closer, don’t get ahead of yourself. Stay in the moment and focus on the next shot. When it was over, it was just an amazing feeling. Obviously to pull it off the way we did is a great feeling.”

Ryan OReilly (#90) tries to score against Goalie Henrik Lundqvist (#35) during the Ice Hockey World Championship Gold medal game between Canada and Sweden at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, on May 21, 2017. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The victory was the first in four tries for Sweden against Canada and their first since 2013.

Hedman put Sweden on the board with the first goal of the game off a broken play, shorthanded, with 20 seconds left in the second period. With Elias Lindholm in the penalty box after a high-sticking infraction, O’Reilly evened the score on the power-play at the 1:48 mark of the third.

To add to the thrill of Sweden winning another gold medal, Henrik was finally able to celebrate a championship with his twin brother Joel Lundqvist.

Henrik is 40 minutes older than his twin and the Lundqvist brothers were able to reunite and play on the same team for the first time in 12 years.

“We grew up watching Team Sweden play in the world championship and to be here today together and with a gold medal, it’s a dream come true for sure,” Joel, captain of the Swedish team, said. “I told him (Henrik) how great it was here in Cologne and that we had a great team and that it would be awesome to play together again and thankfully he felt that way and decided to come.”

Sweden’s Anton Stralman (left) and Victor Hedman (right) celebrate after winning on penalties during the IIHF Men’s World Championship Ice Hockey final game match between Canada and Sweden in Cologne, Germany, on May 21, 2017. Sweden won 2-1. (Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

Bronze Medal Game

In the bronze medal game earlier on Sunday, Russia defeated Finland, 5-3, to win its second consecutive third-place award.

Nikita Gusev scored twice in the victory for Russia, which also saw Nikita Kucherov, Vladimir Tkachyov and Bogdan Kiselevich also find the back of the net. Mikko Rantanen, Mikko Lehtonen and Veli-Matti Savinainen connected in the loss for Finland.

It wasn’t pretty by any means, but Russia was able to hold off a late rally by Finland to take home the IIHF Bronze Medal.

Russia led 4-0 heading into the third period, and despite the Fins scoring three times in the final frame, was able to hold off for the victory, with a late empty-net goal to seal the triumph.

Russia’s Evgeny Dadonov (left) and Finland’s Juuso Hietanen (right) struggle for the puck in the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship bronze medal game at Lanxess Arena; Russia won 5-3. (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk/TASS/Getty Images)

Russia goaltender Andrei Vasilevski picked up his seventh victory of the tournament in between the pipes while Valeri Nichushkin piled up three assists as Russia out-shot Finland 30-29.

“We are happy with a bronze, but not satisfied,” said Kiselevich. “We didn’t lose Team Canada yesterday, we lost to ourselves. Canada was good, but we played a stupid third period. We didn’t play for the gold, but got a bronze.”

Semifinals

Canada Rallies to Stun Russia 4-2 in World Championship Semifinals

Canada fell behind by two goals in the second period, but the two-time defending champions were not rattled in the slightest. The defending champs rallied for four goals in the third period to knock off Russia, 4-2, and advance to its third straight gold medal game.

Yevgeni Kuznetsov and Nikita Gusev each scored to give Russia the early 2-0 lead but it was Canada that got off to a fast start in the third period. Mark Scheifele connected 17 seconds in and the floodgates opened thereafter as Nathan MacKinnon hit to tie the score at 2-2. Ryan O’Reilly struck for the game-winner with 3:02 left in regulation.

Sean Couturier celebrates his goal with his Team Canada teammates during the Ice Hockey World Championship Semifinal between Canada and Russia at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, on May 20, 2017. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Sean Couturier added an empty net goal for Canada to seal the victory as Canada out-shot Russia 19-5 in the final frame.

“Our backs were against the wall going into the third period, and we just regrouped and came out and played our game,” Canada goaltender Calvin Pickard said.

Sweden Cruises Past Finland 4-1 to Reach First Final since 2013

Sweden had something to prove and got off to a flying start against Finland looking to reach its first IIHF World Hockey Championship game since 2013.

The Swedes got that hot start it was looking for when Alexander Edler scored less than two minutes into the action and Sweden never stopped attacking out-shooting Finland 41-23 in the tilt.

John Klinberg and William Nylander each scored second period power-play goals for Sweden and Joakim Nordstrom capped the scoring in the third period. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced in net for Team Sweden.

Quarterfinals

Finland Shuts Out Team USA in First Game of IIHF Quarterfinals

The United States did not get off to the start it wanted in the quarterfinal round of the IIHF World Championship, falling to Finland, 2-0, on Thursday, ending a six-game winning streak.

USA finished first in the Group A pool but couldn’t find a way to beat Finland goaltender Harri Sateri, a 2008 fourth-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, who stopped all 26 shots he faced to record the shutout.

Mikko Rantanen scored in the second period to give Finland the 1-0 lead and Joonas Kemppainen iced the game in the third to send Finland into the semis.

The United States has not won World Championship Gold since 1960, but has shown recent success winning bronze in two of the last four years.

“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” Team USA and Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters after the game. “We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey.”

Finland’s Mikko Rantanen celebrates a goal past USA’s goalkeeper Jimmy Howard during the IIHF Men’s World Championship Ice Hockey quarterfinal match in Cologne, Germany, on May 18, 2017. (Photo by Wolfgang Rattay/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia Cruises Past Czech Republic in Quarterfinals

Andrei Vasilevski was thrown into the fire in the opening period for Russia, but stood tall stopping all 13 shots he faced and finished with 27 stops and the shutout in Russia’s 3-0 victory.

The Czech Republic out-shot Russia 13-8 in the first, but Vasilevski’s play kept the game scoreless early on and allowed Russia to get its high-powered offense going.

Dmitri Orlov got Russia on the board midway through the first period and Nikita Kucherov added another strike to give his team a 2-0 lead after one.

Artemi Panarin sealed the victory with another goal with six minutes left in the third.

Defending Champion Canada Survives Early Scare to hold off Germany

Canada knew it would have its hands full with an inspired Germany team playing in front of its home crowd in Cologne. The raucous crowd ignited Germany early in the first and goaltender Phillip Grubauer did not disappoint, putting on a show with 48 saves.

Unfortunately for Germany, the effort was not enough and Mark Scheifele got Canada on the board to break a scoreless tie in the first before Jeff Skinner doubled it to make it a 2-0 game in the second.

Germany got itself back in the game on a shorthanded goal by Yannic Seidenberg in the third, but two late penalties halted any other offensive threat the rest of the way.

Nylander Powers Sweden Past Switzerland in Quarterfinals

William Nylander broke a tie in the second frame and Sweden held off Switzerland to advance to the semifinals of the World Championship with a 3-1 triumph.

Nicklas Backstrom gave Sweden the early 1-0 lead in the first period, but Switzerland quickly answered back on a goal by Gaetan Haas.

The game remained tied at 1-1 until Nylander was able to find an open seam through the Swiss defenders and beat Genoni Leonardo for the eventual game-winner.

Alex Edler added an insurance goal in the third for Sweden and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 shots.

Pool Play

Group A

  • RUS – Russia
  • USA – USA
  • SWE – Sweden
  • SVK – Slovakia
  • GER – Germany
  • LAT – Latvia
  • DEN – Denmark
  • ITA – Italy

Group B

  • CAN – Canada
  • FIN – Finland
  • CZE – Czech Republic
  • SUI – Switzerland
  • BLR – Belarus
  • NOR – Norway
  • FRA – France
  • SLO – Slovenia

Friday, May 5

Russia 2, Sweden 1

Finland 3, Belarus 2

Germany 2, USA 1

Canada 4, Czech Republic 1

Saturday, May 6

Latvia 3, Denmark 0

Switzerland 5, Slovenia 4

Slovakia 3, Italy 2

Czech Republic 6, Belarus 1

Sweden 7, Germany 1

Norway 3, France 2

Sunday, May 7

Italy 1, Russia 0

Canada 7, Slovenia 2

USA 7, Denmark 2

France 5, Finland 1

Latvia 3, Slovakia 1

Switzerland 3, Norway 0

Monday, May 8

Russia 6, Germany 3

Canada 6, Belarus 0

USA 4, Sweden 3

Czech Republic 4, Finland 3

Tuesday, May 9

Latvia 2, Italy 1

Norway 5, Slovenia 1

Denmark 4, Slovakia 3

France 4, Switzerland 3

Wednesday, May 10

USA 3, Italy 0

Switzerland 3, Belarus 0

Germany 3, Slovakia 2

Finland 5, Slovenia 2

Thursday, May 11

Russia 3, Denmark 0

Czech Republic 1, Norway 0

Sweden 2, Latvia 0

Canada 3, France 2

Friday, May 12

Sweden 8, Italy 1

Czech Republic 5, Slovenia 1

Denmark 3, Germany 2

France 4, Belarus 3

Saturday, May 13

USA 5, Latvia 3

Finland 3, Norway 2

Russia 6, Slovakia 0

Belarus 5, Slovenia 2

Germany 4, Italy 1

Switzerland 3, Canada 2

Sunday, May 14

USA 6, Slovakia 1

Czech Republic 5, France 2

Sweden 4, Denmark 2

Finland 3, Switzerland 2

Monday, May 15

Denmark 2, Italy 0

Canada 5, Norway 0

Russia 5, Latvia 0

France 4, Slovenia 1

Tuesday, May 16

Sweden 4, Slovakia 2

Belarus 4, Norway 3

USA 5, Russia 3

Switzerland 3, Czech Republic 1

Germany 4, Latvia 3

Canada 5, Finland 2

 

Written by Chris Costa/Hockey Clan

@ChrisCostaHS

 

Main Image: Team Sweden pose with the trophy after winning on penalties during the IIHF Men’s World Championship Ice Hockey final game match between Canada and Sweden in Cologne, Germany, on May 21, 2017. Sweden won 2-1. (Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

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