Patrik Berglund scored twice to help Sweden wrap up the group stage of the world hockey championship with a 6-2 victory over the United States Wednesday.
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In Bratislava, Milan Michalek and Jaromir Jagr scored to lead the Czech Republic 2-1 over Finland to complete the group stage with a perfect record in Group D.
Sweden topped Group C with seven points, one more than the United States.
”I think, we had a good game overall, it was a good team effort,” said Berglund, who plays for the St. Louis Blues.
Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth stopped 30 shots.
Berglund beat goalie Al Montoya with a slap shot in the first period, but the United States answered with Cam Fowler’s tying goal on a power play.
Marcus Kruger capitalized on Montoya’s blunder behind his goal to put the Swedes ahead 3:17 into the second period before Mattias Sjorgen stretched the lead and Berglund added his second on a rebound into the second period for his fourth tournament.
”We created a lot of our own troubles tonight,” U.S. captain Mark Stuart said. ”We turned over the puck too much, couple turnovers led to goals. We put ourselves in a hole and we couldn’t get out of it.
”We’re going to learn to play for 60 minutes. We haven’t played 60 minutes yet the whole tournament, that’s one thing we need to work on.”
The U.S. had to rally in the last period to beat Norway 4-2 in the previous game on Monday.
Blake Wheeler only managed to reduce the lead with a backhand shot midway through the third but Jimmie Ericsson and David Petrasek added two more for the Swedes, who seemed to find form after an upset loss to Norway and a hard-fought victory over underdog Austria.
”We haven’t been satisfied with our game against Norway and Austria,” Petrasek said. ”We really needed this. We scored six goals, it’s good for our confidence.”
Swedish coach Par Marts was delighted that Sweden, a European power, finally delivered at the tournament.
”I’m really happy, we played a very good game today,” Marts said. ”It was for real this time, we played very good defense and put pressure on the U.S.”
U.S. coach Scott Gordon gave credit to the Swedish team.
”We generated some quality chances,” Gordon said. ”But the biggest thing for me were the opportunities we gave them. They played better than us and deserved the three points.”
Still, it was a better start to the tournament for the United States than last year when the team lost its all three group stage games at last year’s worlds and had to fight against relegation.
The U.S. faces Canada next on Friday while Sweden faces France.
”They play a pretty similar style,” Stuart said. ”An extremely tough opponent but it’s always fun to play Canada.”
Norway and Denmark advanced to the second round of the ice hockey world championship by winning their last group stage matches on Wednesday.
Anders Bastiansen scored a goal and added three assists to help Norway rout Austria 5-0 in Group C, and Denmark prevailed 3-2 in a penalty shootout over Latvia for its first victory in Group D.
Austria and Latvia will join Slovenia and Belarus to play a relegation round.