Swedes end Czech bid for repeat
|Team Sweden celebrate their victory against the Czech Republic at the Ice Hockey World Championships on Friday, May 13, 2011. (REUTERS/David W Cerny)
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Mikael Backlund scored the go-ahead goal and set up another, as Sweden advanced to the gold medal game of the 2011 World Championship with a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic.
Patrik Berglund added a pair of goals, including the empty-netter in the final minute for Sweden, which hasn't won a World Championship gold medal since 2006. Marcus Kruger and Jimmie Ericsson also scored in the victory, while Viktor Fasth stopped 35 shots.
The Swedes will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal between Russia and Finland for the title on Sunday.
Patrik Elias scored both goals for the Czechs, who will play for bronze against the Russia/Finland loser on Sunday. Ondrej Pavelec made 43 saves in defeat.
The Swedes grabbed a 2-1 lead with 4:50 left in the second period when Backlund snapped a shot from the right circle past the blocker of Pavelec.
Just over two minutes later, Sweden was awarded a penalty shot when Czech defenseman Karel Rachunek gloved the puck in the crease to prevent an easy goal. Pavelec, though, kept it a one-goal game when he stopped Loui Eriksson's attempt.
The Czechs were already down a man at the time of the penalty shot and Milan Michalek took a penalty for cross-checking a few moments later to give the Swedes a 5-on-3 skating advantage for 43 seconds, but the Czechs were able to kill it off.
Sweden, though, increased its lead to 3-1 with 11:53 remaining in the third period when Ericsson converted a perfect feed from Backlund on a 2-on-1 with a shot from the right circle.
It was nearly a three-goal margin only a few moments later, but Jakob Silfverberg rang a shot off the post. However, Kruger was credited with a goal during a scrum in the crease with just over 7 1/2 minutes left to make it a 4-1 contest.
Elias netted his second goal of the game on a wrister from the slot with 5:38 remaining to pull the Czechs within two, but Berglund found the empty net to seal it for Sweden.
After a scoreless first period that featured 14 shots for the Czechs and nine for the Swedes, Elias opened the scoring for the Czech Republic just 46 seconds into the second and Berglund countered for Sweden at the 4:34 mark on the power play.