Timothy Liljegren and Joseph Woll face up in the first semifinal of the 2018 World Junior Championships.
Sweden starts out spinning in circles in their own end as the Swedes, with last change, try to match depth to the USA’s top guys.
Sweden is struggling to get out of their zone in a way that gets them anywhere. One Liljegren pass ends up with two forwards crowded out in traffic, and the next try is an icing from Alex Nylander.
The aggressive US team is leaving Joseph Woll with nothing to do, but the Swedish goalie is not actually having to make saves, he’s just got a closer view of the action.
Fittingly, it’s an activated defenceman, Erik Brannstrom with the first shot at Woll for Sweden, which for some reason wasn’t counted. A significant number of shots should be coming from the Swedish defenders. On the American side, Adam Fox fills that sort of role, and he’s already had a look at Filip Gustavsson.
The USA takes a penalty for using the stick to shove Woll’s loose stick back towards him. This is a no-no in IIHF hockey.
Sweden to the power play, and Liljegren should be on the second unit. Rasmus Dahlin starts on the first unit as the lone defender.
Woll with a huge save for the USA off of Nylander. He’s brilliant, it lands in his pads and he spins his body out of the goal and therefore saves the puck crossing the goal line.
Incredible save by #Leafs prospect Joseph Woll. #TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/nFnnCSsNoB— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
Alex Nylander needs one more point to catch Michael on #WorldJuniors all-time scoring list.— Risto Pakarinen (@puckarinen) January 4, 2018
Obviously, that’s the source of the jinx here. The big delay while they decide that was not a goal allows the Swedes to keep using their first unit.
The power play ends with a whimper as Elias Pettersson falls on a fanned shot.
The Swedish third line get some excitement going after the power play, and this is shaping up to look like the quarterfinal for Sweden, where only the depth had anything to offer.
Pettersson wipes out in the defensive zone too, and almost causes an issue.
Dahlin gets the puck in the offensive zone, and the USA just box him out. They’re finding that easy so far. But the Swedes are playing along the boards well, winning defensive fights for the puck fairly easily.
Sweden is just slightly getting it together now, with some passes connecting, as they skate a little faster. Of course then there’s a whistle and a TV timeout to kill any flow.
The Americans get in on Gustavsson, and he does a spin, but Woll wins on style points for this event.
Brady Tkachuk made a friend, and that means Sweden takes a penalty. Penalties follow Tkachuks around.
USA to the power play.
The USA looks very rough, making a lot of mistakes on their passes, and then Brannstrom just totally blows a clear and gives the puck right back, and that gives the USA their best chance, but the pass isn’t quite on for the USA.
Then the Swedes get a shorthanded rush. The Swedes didn’t kill well and the USA still only got one shot on goal.
Nylander makes an AHL-patented dump into the corner, and Sweden simply does not follow up with any pressure. Are they trying to win a scoreless tie here?
The USA get some zone time, and again, Pettersson is lying on the ice behind the play. Does he have a bad skate?
Dahlin is on the ice with Liljegren as the final minute winds down, and I think that’s a very odd pair but they know how to handle the puck.
Sweden get the only decent offensive try with Pettersson on his feet the whole time.
Timothy Liljegren sure knows how to play stretch passes. #TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/Q5HjV5sAUG— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
0-0 after one, with the shots on goal 8-5 for the USA.
It doesn’t matter who was better in the first period, it’s over, so we begin anew as the two teams trade unforced errors that ends in an offside.
I’m sorry to tell you Leafs fans, I’m enjoying the Habs prospect Ryan Poehling in this tournament. He looks solid out there centering the first line for the Americans.
The USA takes a defensive hooking call as Sweden puts on some real pressure with their very, very good third line.
Sweden to the power play, and absolutely nothing gets going with the Dahlin unit out there. I am cranky at the inflated hype on Dahlin, who is going to be a great player for sure, but has a lot to learn. I truly think Sweden is playing him heavily for who he will be, not who he is at 17. And then he’ll do a great thing, and I get why they’re doing it.
Liljegren lets the puck escape at the blueline, and this is a bad power play with no shots on goal.
There’s a lot of back and forth across the neutral zone, and a few shots wide in the mix, but with more than six minutes in, the USA has two shots on goal, and the Swedes have zero. How long can you play tight?
Liljegren is out with Dahlin again, as Brannstrom is just not bringing his A game out there. And they say the Swedes won’t gamble! But for all his youthful flaws, Liljegren has the trust of his coach.
Woll makes a save after some good play from Lias Andersson, who is playing hurt. This is the first time he’s looked himself.
Gustavsson gives up a huge pad rebound, and the USA can’t do anything with the second chance.
Woll with a stop on Dahlin.
Just a regular day in the office for Rasmus Dahlin. #2018NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/HIkcHGuCfY— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
This is exactly what I mean, if that’s all you ever see of him, well, damn, he’s the best player on the ice. And in that moment, he’s the best junior player in the world. You just have to weight the moments and ask if this is too much responsibility. Last year, I believed he did not belong in this tournament. This year I think he should just play a little bit less.
The USA takes a penalty, and the Swedes hang out on the delayed call for a year in their own zone, and then a pass springs a Swedish forward and that looked like a goal for Isac Lundestrom, the Woll is up. Great save.
Here is the Joe Woll save. Absolute beauty. #TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/Y2NDESb8Rc— Leafs Hub (@LeafsHub) January 4, 2018
Now Sweden to the power play.
Sweden gets a rush chance, but they don’t get their power play set up at all. This is Liljegren out here early as Dahlin was out for the delay. Goal! 1-0 Sweden.
Pettersson did not fall, and he gets a lovely goal after showing some patience before he shoots.
#Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson with another terrific snipe to give Sweden a 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/F9SeX44cDI— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
Nylander gets an assist on the goal, so that’s him tied with his father.
The goal seems to have energized the Swedes a bit and they’re controlling the puck, but then the USA gets a series of chances as the Swedes just can’t defend. They’re stuck with Brannstrom stick-less for a long stretch of time.
That comedy of misadventure aside, the Swedes look themselves, finally.
Brannstrom takes a holding the stick penalty with less than two minutes to play. Bit of a weak call, but so it goes. He’s having a rough day.
USA to the power play, and the first thing they do is go offside.
Guys, I’ll tell you, neither of you can beat Canada playing like this.
The USA gets a three on none, and they take a penalty on the play as Bellows runs into Gustavsson.
After two it’s 1-0 Sweden and the shots on goal are now 19-13 for Sweden. The USA is killing themselves with penalties, and Woll has been brilliant.
We open with the rest of the four-on-four and then a super short Swedish power play.
Liljegren is backstopping a long period of power play-like offensive pressure. He moves at the point a lot like Nikita Zaitsev, and he ultimately gets a shot off from in close too.
The USA gets a return chance right at the Swedish goal mouth, and it looks like a disaster, but isn’t.
Brannstrom takes another penalty, and okay, coach, is it time to call this his worst day ever and shove him down the bench?
USA to the power play.
This is both a better power play and a better kill. I wish they’d played like this from the start.
Woll gets totally done over courtesy of a play begun deep in the Swedish zone by Liljegren with a slick move and a stunning full-ice pass to follow. Andersson is the receiver of this largess, and he scores on Woll after a nice passing set.
2-0 Sweden. Thanks, Timme.
Incredible breakout by Liljegren (#TMLtalk), fantastic play by Andersson (#NYR) and Karlstrom (#GoStars)! pic.twitter.com/oX4XX1REIW— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
Lindstrom takes a holding the stick penalty, and the USA have a chance, to the power play.
The play starts with a shorthanded flurry sparked by Axel Johnsson.
The USA never get set up and the Swedes get a two-on-one with Steen and Nylander, and Steen beats Woll clean. 3-0 Sweden.
What. A. Snipe. By #NHLBruins prospect Oskar Steen! pic.twitter.com/86TKT07FYl— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
Johnsson gets another break, and he fires it past Woll too, and this is Woll’s biggest problem. He gives up goals in bunches. He’s not exactly getting help here from the skaters either. Woll gets the gate on this one and Jake Oettinger gets to finish this now disastrous game.
INCREDIBLE SHORTHANDED SNIPE BY #ALLCAPS PROSPECT AXEL JONSSON FJALLBY!!— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 4, 2018
That's 4-0 Sweden. pic.twitter.com/62rzmkJ1Fk
There’s ten more minutes to play, and Sweden needs to keep their heads in this game, and not be thinking about gold.
Andersson goes to the box for slashing Tkachuk (told you penalties follow them around) and the USA gets another chance to give up two shorties. (Woll’s not in net now, I can be mean.)
It’s Bellows who gets the goal and ruins the shutout for Gustavsson, 4-1 Sweden.
With seven minutes to go, the USA only has a one shot advantage in this period, Sweden is playing a little bit loose, but the USA have lost their aggression at the wrong time.
Needless to say, there’s a lot less Dahlin in the late stages of this game, given the score.
The USA pulls Oettinger with over three and a half minutes to go.
Liljegren blocks a shot, but Sweden don’t clear, and in the ensuing play, the USA scores. 4-2 Sweden. (This looked a little bit like the Leafs in their own zone, to be honest.)
Sweden takes a bad holding penalty with two minutes to go, and it’s edge of the seat time for Sweden.
Gustavsson with a great save after some stellar passing from the USA.
Dahlin gets some PK time, and his reach is really useful here. He gets a key clear. He really is going to change the fortunes of whoever drafts him.
And now the USA is toast. Yamamoto is hurt on a play, and that’s the ball game. Sweden faces whichever team wins between Canada and Czechia.
4-2 Sweden is the final!