Month: September 2016 (page 3 of 8)

How We Play Hockey In Norway

Mats Zuccarello playing for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey

By The Players Tribune

US Women’s Hockey Aims for Continued Success in 2016-17

By Dan Scifo –

Reagan Carey believes the upcoming season is a critical one in the process of the continued development of the perennial powerhouse USA Women’s Hockey program.

Carey, the director of women’s hockey for USA Hockey, said the talented player pool is deep with many established veterans and promising newcomers, generating energy and excitement as the players prepare for the season.

“We’re going to put all of our best out there and see how the season pans out in regards to who will be there at the end and named to our national team,” Carey said. “The stakes are high, our players know it and they’re prepared to battle for spots. It’s going to be a really exciting year for us.”

Carey touched on this week’s mini-training camp for post-graduates, noting the player pool is deeper than ever with 24 post-graduates who are currently active with the U.S. Women’s National Team and that includes 13 who are previous Olympians.

The first event of 2016-17 will be the Four Nations Cup tournament that will take place November in Finland, followed by a Dec. 17 showdown against Team Canada, a game that isn’t traditionally on the schedule.

“It’s a great opportunity for players, it’s exciting for fans, and it’s one more game to see how the player pool does,” Carey said.

That all leads to the upcoming IIHF Women’s World Championship, April 1-8, at the USA Hockey Arena, the first time the U.S. Will host the event since 2012 in Burlington, Vermont.

“Seeing the international level of players is something that’s rare, and for us to be able to do that, have a home crowd and see U.S. flags waving as we compete for a world championship is going to be special for our players and very important for our program,” Carey said.

The women’s world championship, a 22-game tournament that features the top female hockey players in the world, will be held in the U.S. for the fourth time in history, as the Americans seek their first gold medal on home soil. The U.S. fell 5-4 in overtime during the 2012 gold medal game against Canada.

“It was a tough loss in Burlington and I know our players are eager to get back out there and have the opportunity to earn a world championship on home ice,” Carey said.

The event will run in conjunction with the USA Hockey Girls’ and Women’s National Championships. The Tier I girls and the women’s championships will take place in Farmington, Michigan, while the girls’ Tier II event is at Troy, Michigan. Both are less than an hour from the USA Hockey Arena.

According to Carey, approximately 20,000 girls were registered in the U.S. and played within USA Hockey programs in 1998 when the Winter Olympics took place and impacted awareness of the women’s game. That number has since spiked to more than 70,000 today.

“It’s a testament to the focus from USA Hockey, determining how to best align the events because our goal is to showcase female hockey in the best way possible,” Carey said. “To host a world championship is special, but to do it in conjunction with girls’ and women’s nationals jump-starts interest and enthusiasm, not just for Michigan, but all of USA Hockey to be proud of how far the women’s team has come.”

The USA Hockey women’s program is currently a powerhouse. Americans have won gold or the top spot in the last five events, including a pair of IIHF U18 and Women’s World Championships. The U.S. won, or finished second, in 18 of 19 events since Carey became involved with the program in August 2010.

“Certainly there’s a full commitment from our veterans, and we’re so grateful to have such terrific leaders in our program,” Carey said. “Our core of leaders sets the tone for any incoming players, as well as the mainstays on the roster. That’s a huge factor for us.”

Carey said the U.S. program has remained dominant thanks to the structure of USA Hockey and the work at the district level. She added that the internal focus is on the program and the players to progress daily to ensure the U.S. remains at the top.

“There’s a lot to be said for the grassroots level, how deep, strong and capable the player pool is,” Carey said. “That starts before we get to national team camp. As a foundation, that is critical for us and a huge reason why we’re at the top of the pile. Certainly, as NCAA programs grow, that’s a big part in preparing players, too.

“We’re in a really great spot, seeing the benefit of our U18 development programs and how prepared our younger players are to have an impact on the senior level at an early age.”

Players can perhaps make the biggest impact soon as the women’s program prepares to begin its season.

In addition to the tournaments that will take place, there are annual camps and festivals for the active player pool that are being considered for spots on upcoming rosters. The next major camp will be in December when a U.S. Women’s National Team development camp is held at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. 

“Knowing all the players in the pool are all battling for the final spot on the national team roster, the energy around that alone is exciting,” Carey said. “To have these big events we get to host is going to be great. We’re looking forward to a great season.”

MacKinnon lifts North America over Sweden in OT

By The Canadian Press

When Nathan MacKinnon deked Henrik Lundqvist out for a highlight-reel overtime goal and got mobbed by teammates, he couldn’t be happier.

Minutes later, MacKinnon found out that the 4-3 victory over Sweden on Wednesday wasn’t enough to get Team North America into the semifinals at the World Cup of Hockey. The most exciting show on ice has two victories and a one-goal loss but needs Finland to beat Russia on Thursday to advance.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have celebrated so hard,” MacKinnon said.

Everything the 23-and-under Team North America does is over the top, most importantly the skill that has made it the focus of the World Cup. Despite playing the two most entertaining games of the tournament, North America is in wait-and-see mode while Sweden is the winner of Group B after getting the point it needed.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 45 of 49 shots to get Sweden into the semifinals after a horrendous start by the skaters in front of him.

“We gave him a rough start,” said two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, who fell victim to the speed of North America’s Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau early. “As a goaltender, I don’t think I can even imagine how it feels to be that kind of left alone and let in two quick goals. How we can rebound from that I have no idea.”

Auston Matthews scored on a 2-on-1 with McDavid 30 seconds in, and Vincent Trocheck made it 2-0 North America 95 seconds in. Lundqvist stopped a few breakaways and Gaudreau’s penalty shot to keep it from getting out of hand.

Sweden eventually got a handle on North America’s blazing speed, which made the best defence in the tournament look pedestrian.

“We had no choice. We had to. Otherwise it was going to be a disaster,” Karlsson said. “They gave us a slap in the face right away.”

North America is one big slap in the face to unsuspecting opponents, who know how fast the mix of U.S. and Canadian players is but can’t possibly adjust to it before seeing it. Gaudreau later scored for North America, but Sweden got goals from Filip Forsberg, Nicklas Backstrom and Patrik Berglund to get to overtime.

With starting goalie Matt Murray out with a thumb injury, John Gibson stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced. He looked shaky at times but stopped Daniel Sedin on a breakaway in overtime as one of a few memorable, important saves.

Not down at all about the loss, Sweden went into the game with a full understanding of what it needed to do.

“Always when you step on the ice, you want to win the game, but obviously mission accomplished,” coach Rickard Gronborg said.

It’s the opposite for North America, which went from euphoria to uncertainty. A loss to Russia in the game of the tournament means it’s on the wrong side of a head-to-head tiebreaker and now must hope for Finland to pull off the upset.

“We’re happy we won,” forward Mark Scheifele said. “Winning two games in this tournament is a big step. Hopefully we get some help from Finland.”

Even if North America bows out, more fans will remember this team for its unmatched pace and excitement level than its 2-1 record. Each game featured more than a handful of did-you-see-that moves, and North America left a lasting impact on the sport.

“I think we definitely have turned some heads,” McDavid said. “People didn’t know what to expect when we came into this tournament, but we’ve beat two good hockey teams, and ultimately maybe even should have beat the Russians. I think we’ve definitely turned some heads and opened the eyes of everyone what the future of the NHL is like.”

MacKinnon provided one last highlight with the overtime winner. All alone, the 2013 No. 1 pick beat Lundqvist top shelf like he has been doing that to goalies for decades.

“I saw his stick came up for a poke check and managed to beat that and get it up,” MacKinnon said. “It was fun, a fun goal.”

Early World Cup exit may lead to big changes for USA Hockey

usa ice hockey

By The Associated Press

Phil Kessel was quick to note he wasn’t on the United States’ roster for during a disappointing World Cup of Hockey.

He wasn’t the only one to point out problems with the team’s construction.

In the moments after the Americans’ 4-2 loss to Canada that eliminated them from contention, the questions cascaded: John Tortorella as coach? Too much grit? Not enough skill? What might change after another all-too-familiar early exit from an international tournament?

U.S. management doubled down on the sandpaper style that almost resulted in a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but hasn’t worked since. Kessel, centers Tyler Johnson and Paul Stastny, wings Kyle Okposo and Bobby Ryan and defensemen Justin Faulk, Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler were among skilled players left off the World Cup roster, generating criticism months ago and even more with the U.S. bowing out after going 0-2.

”To come here and flop like we did is extremely disappointing,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. ”Obviously we have to examine ourselves and what more could we have done and how can we get better for future tournaments.”

The American’s two-and-out revealed they brought too much physicality to a skill game. Canada, Russia, Team North America and others have thrived with fast-paced, entertaining hockey. Speed has been king at this international tournament.

With the aim of beating Canada, U.S. general manager Dean Lombardi built a big team with an edge to neutralize the talent of the top hockey power in the world. Instead, the World Cup showed depth of talent is everything. Leaving more skilled players at home proved detrimental.

Kessel, a Conn Smythe candidate as playoff MVP when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup this spring, took to Twitter after the U.S. loss to make light of being not selected.

”Just sitting around the house tonight (with) my dog,” Kessel tweeted. ”Felt like I should be doing something important, but couldn’t put my finger on it.”

Kessel was the Americans’ leading scorer and best player at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but he was left off the initial and then final World Cup rosters. Hand surgery after the playoffs may have put his availability in doubt, but USA Hockey’s management team clearly overlooked him and others.

The U.S. opted for old-guard players like forward Brandon Dubinsky, defensemen Jack Johnson and Erik Johnson and grinder Justin Abdelkader. Tortorella, as old-school a coach as there is left, wanted to play his brand of hockey and stood by his roster construction and style.

”It’s disappointing, frustrating, all different types of emotions,” Tortorella said. ”I think we let some people down. It’s on my watch. I certainly feel responsible for that.”

Patrick Kane, who did not score a goal in two games after winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP last season, wouldn’t blame his coach for this failing.

”Tortorella is just one of the most passionate guys I’ve ever seen about hockey,” Kane said. ”I’ll never say a bad thing about him. He’s just a great coach. We didn’t show up for him.”

Lombardi and other executives will take heat for the World Cup debacle, though it might lead to philosophical changes about how to beat Canada and win elite tournaments.

It will help at future events to have players like Auston Matthews, Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, Brandon Saad and Seth Jones, all of whom played on the 23-and-under Team North America and weren’t eligible for the U.S. team.

”There is definitely a fantastic future coming here,” Tortorella said. ”There are some good young kids there that I think they’ll bring some juice to the program.”

Matt Duchene scores pair as Team Canada tops Team USA

By Canadian Press

Matt Duchene scored a pair of goals and Carey Price made 33 saves as the Canadians rolled over the United States 4-2 at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night. The victory clinched a spot in the semifinal for Canada while eliminating the U.S. from competition for the tournament crown.

Corey Perry and Patrice Bergeron also scored for Canada in the win.

Ryan McDonagh and T.J. Oshie had goals for the Americans, while Jonathan Quick gave up four goals on 34 shots.

Team Europe will join the Canadians in the next round, which begins Saturday evening.

Canada’s overwhelming blend of skill, speed and depth were ultimately too much for the U.S. and more than enough for a berth in the semifinal.

Duchene scored twice in only 11 minutes, while Price thoroughly outduelled his American counterpart.

Eight different players have goals for the Canadians through two games and all but three players have mustered at least a point. Ten players registered at least one point on Tuesday.

The Americans, conversely, scored only two goals in two games before being eliminated and none from reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane. Their roster was built behind size and physicality as a means of toppling Canada, a bet that ultimately failed.

Canada expected a “desperate” bunch and indeed, it was the Americans hitting the board first.

Never trailing in their 6-0 tournament-opening win over the Czechs, Canada gave up the first goal of the game — and their first goal of the tournament — when Ryan McDonagh banged a rebound past Price four-plus minutes into the opening frame. An odd series of deflections saw the puck land on McDonagh’s tape just outside the crease.

The deficit was short-lived though.

Canada struck back a minute and a half later on the first goal of the tournament from Matt Duchene and then jumped in front 14 seconds after that on a goal from Corey Perry.

Duchene took advantage of a wily play by Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Quebec native flung a shot wide off the endboards, the carom landing right in the space Duchene occupied on Quick’s doorstep. The 25-year-old outmuscled Dustin Byfuglien for puck control before putting a backhand into the net.

Byfuglien, the Winnipeg Jets defender, was re-inserted into the U.S. lineup after being scratched in their 3-0 loss to Europe over the weekend.

Perry then gave Canada the lead without even shooting, a Logan Couture rebound pinging off his side and into the U.S. goal. American head coach John Tortorella challenged the play, but the goal and Canada’s 2-1 lead were upheld.

The Canadians added to their lead about six minutes later on Duchene’s second of the night. He capitalized on a deflected Max Pacioretty passing attempt along the wall before making a nifty move and shot between Quick’s pads.

A frustrated Tortorella looked to be considering a change in the crease in the immediate aftermath. The American head coach pointed in the direction of backup Ben Bishop on the bench before conferring with assistants John Hynes and Mike Sullivan, who appeared to advise otherwise.

Too quick at times for their American counterparts, Canada kept pushing to close out the period. Brad Marchand rung a shot off the post, John Tavares had a fine chance around the net while Duchene and the fourth line kept buzzing. Price, too, turned aside a decent look by U.S. captain Joe Pavelski.

The Americans had the edge early in the second.

Matched up against Sidney Crosby’s line, Ryan Kesler and linemates, Blake Wheeler and Justin Abdelkader, managed to keep the top Canadian unit pinned in the defensive zone for nearly a minute and a half. An American power play followed shortly after, but it was Canada that grabbed momentum behind three blocked shots.

Only one shot found its way to Price, who stopped it.

Bergeron added to the lead less than a minute later with his second of the tournament. It was Tavares who made the key play though, the 26-year-old dekeing in and around Matt Niskanen before firing a shot that bounced off Bergeron and the skate of McDonagh before trickling into the net for the 4-1 lead.

Oshie bounced a shot off Price in the final minutes of the third to pull the U.S. within two, much too little in the end for the Americans.

Tuesday mostly failed to produce the nastiness of two exhibition games, though Couture was crunched into the boards by Pacioretty at one point in the third period. Shoving ensued and Couture briefly left for the Canadian dressing room before returning.

Team Canada concludes the preliminary round against the Europeans on Wednesday night.

Team Sweden shuts out Team Finland in defensive affair

By Canadian Press

Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves and Anton Stralman scored his first goal of the tournament as Sweden blanked Finland 2-0 in World Cup of Hockey action on Tuesday.

Loui Eriksson added an insurance goal into an empty Finnish net with 2.6 seconds remaining in the third.

With the win, Sweden (2-0-0) has a firm hold on the top seed in Group B while Finland (0-2-0) is in tough to advance to the semifinals.

Lundqvist, who missed Sweden’s first game of the tournament on Sunday due to an illness, struggled in pre-tournament competition posting a 4.49 goals-against average and a .778 save percentage in two appearances. The 34-year-old was pulled from last Wednesday’s game against Team Europe after allowing five goals on 22 shots in a 6-2 loss.

Tuukka Rask, starting in the Finnish goal over Pekka Rinne, stopped 27 shots in the loss.

Finland’s Mikael Granlund had two excellent chances to tie the game just past the midway mark of the third, but Lundqvist got his right pad on the first shot and Granlund put his rebound off the post.

Things got physical in the third as Finland’s Sami Lepisto caught Sweden’s Mikael Backlund with a questionable, high hit just inside’s Swedish blue line with a little over nine minutes to play. Lepisto was assessed a minor penalty for roughing, while Backlund received treatment on the Swedish bench but stayed in the game.

Sweden nearly added to its lead with eight minutes remaining in the third, but Eriksson put Henrik Sedin‘s feed right into the pads of Rask.

Sweden led 1-0 after two periods on Stralman’s goal. The Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman put a backhand feed from Henrik Sedin past Rask at 9:57 of the middle period.

Finland’s Patrik Laine had an excellent chance to tie the game 1-1 in the final minute of the second, but Lundqvist was able to get his glove on Laine’s one-timer with 40 seconds remaining in the frame.

The two teams played to a scoreless first period with Finland out-shooting Sweden 11-8.

Teuvo Teravainen, who drew into Finland’s lineup for Erik Haula, nearly opened the scoring five minutes in, but put his shot off of Granlund’s rebound off the post.

Moments later, Sweden’s Gabriel Landeskog stripped Jyrki Jokipakka of the puck just inside Finland’s blue line, but couldn’t get his back hand shot over the right pad of a sprawling Rask.

Sweden concludes the preliminary round on Wednesday against Team North America while Finland meets Russia on Thursday.

Team Russia holds off North America for crucial win

By Canadian Press

Auston Matthews scored his first goal at Air Canada Centre in a losing cause as Russia kept its World Cup of Hockey hopes alive with a wild 4-3 victory over Team North America on Monday night.

The Russians, who led 4-1 after four consecutive goals, had to stave off a two-goal comeback from the never-say-die young North Americans. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky did his bit to preserve the win.

Down 4-3, North America had a 94-second two-man advantage with some 8 1/2 minutes remaining but failed to convert despite some good pressure. A bench minor for too many men on the ice did not help the North American cause late in the game.

The game ended with 40 seconds of North American six-on-four play.

Russia (1-1-0) scored four goals in six minutes 14 seconds in a frenetic second period, prompting North America coach Todd McLellan to pull Matt Murray in favour of John Gibson with 4:17 remaining in the period. Murray faced 19 shots on the night.

Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov scored 50 seconds apart for Russia after Matthews put the North America young guns ahead in the first period. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladmir Tarasenko also scored in the second period.

Fellow Leaf Morgan Rielly also scored in the second for North America (1-1-0), which outshot Russia 18-10 in the period despite being outscored 4-1.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins cut the lead to 4-3 at 3:14 of the third, banging in a mid-air puck during a goal-mouth scramble on the power play. North America kept coming — and shooting.

North America outshot Russia 45-25.

It was an open, free-wheeling affair with plenty of offence. The 23-and-under North Americans, wearing their distinctive black uniforms with “beacon red” numbers, continued their impressive play.

The Russians, needing a win after losing their opener 2-1 to Sweden, seemed happy to play their part in an end-to-end affair.

Matthews opened the scoring with a tap-in at 5:14 of the first period, a goal announcement that Leaf Nation hopes to be hearing for many years to come.

Captain Connor McDavid made the play, using his speed to accelerate past Pavel Datsyuk after defenceman Colton Parayko retrieved the rebound of an Alex Ovechkin shot and sent it up the boards. As McDavid rocketed towards the Russian goal, defenceman Alexei Emelin was caught in the middle and Matthews, arriving at the other side of the net, knocked in a perfect backhand feed as Emelin desperately tried to get a stick in the way.

The normally restrained Matthews, who turned 19 on Saturday, permitted himself a smile after scoring. Within minutes, McDavid to Matthews was trending on Twitter in Canada as word spread of the pretty play between the top picks in the last two NHL drafts.

Rielly came close midway through the period, firing a low shot that Bobrovsky managed to trap between his pads.

Bobrovsky stopped Dylan Larkin on a three-on-one later in the period.

The Russians had back-to-back power plays early in the second but failed to capitalize. In fact, Bobrovsky had to stop McDavid as the second penalty expired.

But Russia began to spend some time in the North American end and Namestnikov scored off a fat Murray rebound of a Ivan Telegin shot at 9:29. Ovechkin then hit the post and Kucherov made it 2-0 with a quick one-timer from near the faceoff dot at 10:19.

Kuznetsov made it 3-1 at 13:37 on a solo end-to-end rush, tucking the puck past Rielly before beating Murray from close-range over the arm. He celebrated with a bird-like arm-flapping move before chirping the North American bench. Tarasenko then beat a screened Murray on a turnaround shot from the top of the faceoff circle at 15:43.

Riley pulled one back at 17:54, firing a shot through traffic after a blocked shot came back to him. And Bobrovsky had to make several good saves while Russia killed off a penalty as the period ended.

There was some niggle in the game with Andrei Markov landing on top of Nathan MacKinnon after a goal-mouth melee in the second period.

In other Group B play, Sweden (1-0-0) plays Finland (0-1-0) on Tuesday.

North America opened Sunday with a 4-1 win over Finland, befuddling veteran Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne — a three-time finalist for the Vezina Award — with a 43-shot barrage.

The North Americans wrap up group play against Sweden on Wednesday while Russia faces Finland on Thursday.

North America defenceman Aaron Ekblad, who led all North American skaters with 23:53 ice time Sunday, sat out Monday’s game with an upper body injury. Winnipeg Jet Jacob Trouba took his place.

Team GM Peter Chiarelli refused to comment on a report that Ekblad was suffering from concussion-like issues, telling Sportsnet between periods that the defenceman was listed as day-to-day.

Team Europe surprise 2-0 after OT win over Czech Republic

By Canadian Press

Leon Draisaitl at 2:06 of overtime to lift Europe to a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic 3-2 on Monday at the World Cup of Hockey.

Mats Zuccarello sprung Draisaitl in all alone and the Oilers forward beat Czech goalie Petr Mrazek low on his blocker side for his second goal of the tournament.

Zdeno Chara and Zuccarello scored in regulation while Jaroslav Halak stopped 28 shots for his second win of the tournament as Europe (2-0) moved into first place in Group A.

Jakub Voracek and Martin Hanzal responded for the Czech Republic (0-2), which is all but eliminated from advancing to the semifinals. Mrazek made 38 saves.

Europe took a 2-1 lead at 2:17 of the third period on Zuccarello’s first of the tournament. Moments after sprawling out to rob Roman Josi with a huge glove save, Mrazek mishandled Zuccarello’s fluttering wrist shot.

Hanzal tied it 2-2 on a power play at 8:31 of the third, picking up the bounce off the end boards off of a Vladimir Sobotka’s point shot and beating Halak.

Chara opened the scoring at 10:04 of the second period, beating a screened Mrazek with a floater from the top of the faceoff circle for his first of the tournament.

The Czechs nearly respond moments later as the puck got behind Halak, but Dennis Seidenberg was there to clear it off the goal line.

Voracek tied it with 6:32 left in the middle period as he got around a pinching Josi and beat Halak.

Europe outshot the Czechs 21-9 in the second period and had plenty of opportunities to take over the game.

Just over two minutes in and with Europe already on a power play, Czech defenceman Michal Kempny jumped on a loose puck in the crease giving Europe a penalty shot. Anze Kopitar took the shot but could not beat Mrazek with a backhand deke.

Then, just past the six-minute mark of the second, Marian Hossa beat Halak glove side, but his wrist shot deflected off the post.

The Czechs conclude the preliminary round against North America on Wednesday while Europe plays Sweden.

Team North America dominates Team Finland in convincing win

By Canadian Press

Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon scored, Matt Murray made 24 saves and Team North America skated circles around Finland on the way to a 4-1 victory Sunday night at the World Cup of Hockey.

Captain Connor McDavid and the group of 23-and-under Americans and Canadians put on an unbelievable show of speed and skill in their first World Cup game, making good on the pre-tournament buzz. North America made it a torturous night for Finland, which had nine players back from the bronze-medal team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Finnish goaltender Pekka Rinne was often brilliant in stopping 39 of the 43 shots he faced but couldn’t do much about the domination going on in front of him. Valtteri Filppula scored Finland’s only goal late in the third period after the result was decided.

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 as Team Sweden downs Team Russia

By Canadian Press

Jacob Markstrom showed up to the Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon with the notion that he was backing up Sweden’s star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

The 26-year-old was caught off guard when he found out Lundqvist was sent home due to an illness, and that he would start his country’s World Cup of Hockey opener.

Markstrom turned aside 27 shots as the Swedes opened Group B play with a 2-1 victory over Russia.

“I didn’t expect it, so, you’re surprised,” Markstrom said of when he learned he would get the start. “Mentally, it’s a little different [preparation] because you can’t really get in the zone [if you’re not starting], but everything physically, I try to do the same thing so if stuff like this happens, you’re ready.”

Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Hedman scored second period goals for the Swedes (1-0).

Alex Ovechkin had the lone goal for the Russians (0-1) while Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves in the loss.

Ovechkin thought he had tied the game 2-2 with seven seconds remaining in the third, but officials waved it off, ruling the puck went off Ovechkin’s glove and in.

“I thought I touched it,” Ovechkin said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t see the replay. But I feel the touch. I don’t know if it was the puck or the stick. I definitely feel the touch on my hand on my stick.”

Russia tested Markstrom early as Vladimir Tarasenko one-timed a shot off of an Evgeni Malkin face-off win, but Markstrom was able to get his left pad on it and steer it aside just 30 seconds into the game.

Moments later, Tarasenko hit Markstrom in the mask with a shot, which the Vancouver Canucks goaltender was able to shake off.

Sweden coach Rikard Gronberg was pleased with how his group executed the prepared game plan after coming off a 6-2 loss to Team Europe in pre-tournament competition last Wednesday.

“[We] wanted to make sure their transition game didn’t happen so quickly,” Gronberg said.

“It was really important for us to have puck control. We didn’t want to get into a run and gun type of game with the Russian team because that’s where their strengths are.”

Landeskog got Sweden on the board with a power-play goal, one timing an Erik Karlsson pass over Bobrovsky’s blocker at 10:41 of the second period.

Less than two minutes later, Hedman doubled the lead by one timing a Carl Hagelin feed glove-side past Bobrovsky.

Ovechkin got the Russians on the board with 33 seconds remaining in the third, putting his wrist shot from the point off the post and past a screened Markstrom.

“I think they don’t give us any room in the first two periods and we played their way,” Ovechkin said. “We just don’t have speed through the neutral zone or if we have speed we don’t have support, so we’re trying to be 1-on-1 and we see it’s not going to work.

“I think the situation is going to be changing. You can see how we play in the third period, obviously we score only one goal in the last minute. But I think the chances were there.”

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