A 24/7 kind of game for Swede goalie

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:55 PM ET

Sweden's goaltender Christopher Lindberg saw Canada 24/7 yesterday. No. 24 is Corey Perry of the London Knights. No. 7 is London native Jeff Carter, who plays with the OHL's Soo Greyhounds.

Everyone knew what Carter could do on the world stage after starring for Canada at last year's world junior hockey championship in Helsinki.

He the game's first goal in an 8-1 win over the Swedes, and his play was head and shoulders above just about everyone on the ice.

Carter is showing that he's ready for the NHL.

But coming into this year's tournament, the jury was still out on Perry.

After two games, the verdict is in and Perry is a free man -- free from the critics who doubted he would not fit in at this level.

Perry collected two assists against the Swedes before 10,739 flag-waving, red-shirted pro-Canadian fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.

He assisted on Canada's fifth and sixth goals, both scored by linemate Sidney Crosby, the 17-year-old sensation for the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec league.

The third member of the line is Patrice Bergeron, on loan from the Boston Bruins. The trio accounted for three of the eight goals against Tre Kroner.

But it was two shots by Perry in the first period -- that didn't go in -- that had Lindberg wondering about this No. 24.

Perry rang a shot off the post, then later blasted a bullet off Lindberg's mask. Referee Milan Minar of the Czech Republic blew his whistle just to make sure Lindberg was still in the central time zone.

"I thought the third time would be a charm but I never got to the third shot," Perry said, breaking into a laugh.

"But you know, we were passing the puck around pretty good out there and it was me to Patrice, then to Crosby and it's in the back of the net," he said of their power-play goal that gave Canada a 5-1 lead with four minutes remaining in the second period.

Perry, with 23 goals for the Knights, is the one drawing the assists here and he doesn't mind his new role.

"I guess it's just a role I've come across but I'm trying to shoot more than I have been and if they don't go in the other two guys whack the rebounds in," he said.

"It's the same thing with them. You go to the net and you know the puck is going to be on your stick or off a pad and you've got a rebound chance."

Lindberg saw 46 shots, with a few coming from Perry's stick. "I'm a winner and I want to win, but when I see it 4-1 and my players are just standing around and looking?" he said of the fifth goal.

"This is Canada and they are a really good team, but if we can score on them when it is 2-1, it's another game.

"But we stand around and look."

Perry still has to do a double-take when he walks into the Canadian dressing room and he sees the sweaters "Bergeron, Crosby, Perry" hanging beside each other.

"I look around the room and there's the white sweaters . . . and it's pretty unbelievable when you get a chance to play with those two guys.

"It's unfortunate (Jeremy) Colliton went down but somebody had to step up and fortunately it was me who got that role," Perry said of Colliton, with the Prince Albert Raiders, initially on that line before suffering a leg injury.

Colliton returned to the lineup yesterday -- he wasn't on the bench for the third period -- but head coach Brent Sutter wasn't going to mess with a good thing and kept Perry on that line.

Carter said Perry has earned everything he has gotten.

"He's been great for us. He had to earn a spot on the line and he's taken it and run with it, and he's doing a great job," said Carter, who works out in the summer in London with Perry.

"I definitely felt he could do this if he got the chance. He's an unbelievable player and he's got unbelievable talent. And he battles and that's what the coach is looking for."

Perry said it's a treat to be on the bench and watch his buddy Carter perform.

"We keep in touch throughout the year and he, (Ryan) Getzlaf (Calgary Hitmen) and (Andrew) Ladd (Calgary) are a pretty unstoppable line right now," Perry said.

"They battle hard in the corner to get loose pucks and it's in the back of the net before you know it."

It'll be the same for Perry.

If he keeps battling the way he has, the puck will be in the back of the net before he knows it.


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