A capacity crowd of 11,590 watched an exciting 3-1 win for Canada tonight in the final game of Group C action in Turku. The win moves Canada into top spot and drops Sweden to second place. Sean Burke was in goal for Canada and Tommy Salo for Tre Kronor.
"It was certainly an exciting match for the spectators," Swedish coach Hardy Nilsson said afterward.
It was evident from the first minute of play that Canadian coach Andy Murray was going to have Kris Draper on the ice whenever Peter Foresberg appeared. The two have known each other in these roles for years in the NHL, and there was no reason to expect anything different tonight. "I like those challenges," Draper enthused. "It's what I have always done and the reason they brought me over here, so it makes my job easier when I know my role."
Canada had the better scoring chances in the first and led 1-0 after 20 minutes on a power-play goal by Dany Heatley. He knocked in a perfect pass from Steve Reinprecht while stationed at the back side of the goal, and at the other end Burke was perfect in handling everything that came his way.
In the second, Thomas Rhodin hit the crossbar on a short-handed breakaway, and that defined the night for the Swedes. "We couldn't take advantage of our scoring chances," Nilsson concurred, "and I won't say we were unlucky, but it made our task more difficult."
Midway through the period, Dany Heatley caused a turnover at his blueline and came in on Salo on a 3-on-1. Although it was a slightly botched play, Daniel Briere wound up in the crease with the puck and pushed it across the goal line to make the score 2-0 Canada. That is how the period ended after Henrik Zetterberg displayed that bad luck of which Nilsson spoke when he hit the goalpost on another clear chance, though Canada did the same when Steve Reinprecht hit the bar on a one-timer.
In the third, Burke disheartened the Swedes by stopping P.J. Axelsson cold on a breakway while the teams were playing 4-on-4. A short time later, Briere won a clean faceoff in the Swedish end back to Dandenault, and he drilled a shot to the top of the far side to make it 3-0 Canada. The Canadians dominated in the faceoff circle, and this was just reward. They couldn't close the door on the game altogether, though. Peter Forsberg made a nice move in close that beat Burke between the legs, and in the final two minutes Canada ran into penalty trouble. Nilsson pulled Salo with two minutes to play, and for half a minute Tre Kronor had six skaters to three for Canada. They could do nothing with the advantage, though, and the game ended 3-1 for Canada.
Both teams now get two days off to prepare for the Qualification Round which resumes in Turku on Friday. "It was a battle down in the corners," coach Andy Murray said. "We have some big defencemen and it was a demanding game. It will be good to have a break before we play again."