The decisive moment in both today’s game, and in Sweden’s tournament, came at 17:58 of the third period when Tre Kronor took a time-out to prepare for their final attack.
Tied 1-1, and needing a victory to leapfrog their Czech opponents in the standings, Head Coach Peo Larsson called in his troops for some strategic planning. The Swedes had been playing without urgency for most of the third period, and the coach assumedly tried to light a fire underneath his team for the final two minutes.
Most assumed Larsson would pull goaltender Michal Zajkowski in favour of an extra attacker, but the move never came. The Swedes won the face-off, but a shot from the point was blocked by a Czech defender and the Swedes couldn’t recover the loose puck.
Instead, the Czechs’ leading scorer, Jiri Hudler, broke away with the puck and followed his own rebound into the corner. After a quick-feed to teammate Petr Taticek, the score was 2-1, and Sweden’s fate was sealed as a member of the relegation round. Ironically, the Swedes then pulled Zajkowski and the Czechs scored into the empty net. Final score: Czech Republic 3, Sweden 1.
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