Today's 8-3 Swedish victory against the Swiss came at a high cost.
Late in the first, with five minutes left to play, a hit from Swiss player Chris Egli caught William Nylander on his blind side on open ice, driving his shoulder and arm into Nylander's head to knock him to the ice. Nylander left the game immediately. He did not return for the second period, and reports from Patrik B indicate that he was taken to the hospital for observation. Egli was ejected from the game.
This was not the only injury for the Swedish team. With under 8 minutes left in the second, second-line winger Adrien Kempe completed a hit on a Swiss player, only to be hammered by Calvin Thurkauf's shoulder into the numbers, with Kempe's head impacting the glass. He immediately left the game.
The third injury came in the last period of the game, sending second-line center Axel Holmstrom straight to the dressing room.
Despite the steady reduction of players from each line, the Swedish team played a structured and disciplined game, showing off skillful skating and carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Passes were short and smart from forward to forward, without relying heavily on the blue line to spring the puck past defenders. Goals came from many parts of the ice, but a good number came from dangerous angles near the goal. All of Sweden's lines, and even their bottom-pair D, were productive, with players creating chances by being dogged with rebounds as well as setting up screens.
Sweden kicked off with a dominant first period. It didn't take long for William Nylander to make an impact, with an early goal on a scramble in front of the net after his brother, Alex, poked the puck loose on the far side. Shortly after Nylander looked to injure Swiss forward Calvin Thurkauf of the Kelowna Rockets with a shot, Sweden made it 2-0 after the Swiss killed off a prolonged 5-minute powerplay thanks to a goal from Flyers prospect Oskar Lindblom.
Shortly after Kempe's injury in the second, third-line center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson hammered a fast shot through Swiss goaltender Gauthier Descloux's 5-hole, chasing him from the game. Joren van Pottelberghe entered in relief, but was unable to keep the Swedes from finding the scoreboard twice more in the third.
Most of Switzerland's good looks began from excellent passes from the Swiss D-zone by Washington Capitals prospect D Jonas Siegenthaler. One of Siegenthaler's passes through the neutral zone to a free Swiss winger led to a goal from F Tino Kessler, who also tallied a shorthanded breakaway in the third.
The game was chippy, but Sweden's C Andreas Englund (replacing injured Sebastian Aho) answered the call on more than one occasion. Alexander Nylander also stepped up in the absense of his big brother, earning a team-leading three assists. Dmytro Timashov proved the team's trust as powerplay quarterback by netting both of Sweden's powerplay goals.
Game notes from Scott:
- Nylander was great early on, created several chances off the rush and nearly scored on his first two shifts. Good to see him circling the net on his early goal after a nice play by Alex to get him the puck — a little inadvertently. He had a few crafty zone entries too. Hit was ugly, and his head *was* up. Dangerous head contact.
- Timashov was exceptional. The line with him and Rasmus Asplund and Alex Nylander was the best line for either team throughout the game after Nylander left. He was really crafty with the puck, especially on the wall on the PP. Made a beautiful play to keep the puck in ahead of his first goal. Second goal was a perfectly placed wrister from the blueline. Stopped up a few times after clean zone entires to find teammates. Nothing to complain about with his first game.