Tre Kronor continued to study and got the opening goal for real at 11:48. It is a hockey troism that when you get pucks to the net, good things happen, and this game emphasized the point. Jacob Peterson got his first goal of the tournament when he fired a feed against Carl Klingberg at the slot and saw it bounce off a Norwegian skate to beat Arntzen. Nylander took a secondary assist on the game.
– It was not very fast pace or physically out there, but we are happy with the win, says Swedish defender Henrik Tomernes. “We got some goals, we started the powerplay and we are ready for the last match in the group stage.”
Norway quickly had a chance to respond when it had a 5-on-3 powerplay. However, the polar bears could not take advantage of that opportunity one night when the crime stubbornly refused to ignite.
This was better news for Norway in its defense, which did a good job of limiting Swedish opportunities in the first period. For the new generation of Norwegian blue liners, players like Emil Lilleberg and Max Krogdahl, this was a tough test but one that they willingly embraced to keep their team in the game in the initial frame.
Quick goals in the middle of the second period, however, put Sweden in full control. First came Nylander, who marked his arrival in Tampere with a powerplay marker. He took advantage of a gap on the right side of the Norwegian defense, exchanged passes with Erik Gustafsson and fell off the boards to shoot home a wrist from the turning point.
It can be something of a tonic after the disappointment in Toronto. “I was a little upset about how our season ended so I thought it was good to come here and continue playing,” Nylander added.
Then a stretch pass by Henrik Tommernes opened up the Norwegian defense and Carl Grundström fired a shot that was too hot for Arntzen. When the goalkeeper lost control of the rebound and struggled to restore his position, Peterson was able to follow up and put in the puck for his second for the night.
Two goals in 64 seconds left the Norwegians with a mountain to climb; another three minutes later made them embark on that metaphorical ascent from the depths of the nearest fjord. This time the defense lost control of the puck behind the net and Asplund caught in to feed Joel Kellman. He was knocked over by a combination of Arntzen and Mattias Norstebo, but Asplund jumped on the rebound to make it 4-0 and lower Norway’s hopes.
Until this stage, they had not seen much of Rasmus Dahlin, a major player in previous matches. However, the dangerous defender returned to his familiar role as a quarterback in the Swedish power play and his return pass for Wallmark made the Norwegian PK wrong when the center from Zurich made his first in this tournament.
“They are a good team and we had a tough second period there,” Olimb added. “We took too many penalties again and it’s tough to play against these teams with shorthanded.”
Norway finally had something to cheer about at the start of the third period when Tobias Fladeby forced the puck home after a scramble in front of Magnus Hellberg’s net. Johannes Johannesen’s shot posed problems for Sweden and Fladeby, who play their club hockey for Tingsryd in the Allsvenskan, took the opportunity to score their first World Cup goal.
Fladeby was promoted to the Norwegian top line together with the Olimb brothers, with Mats Rosseli Olsen standing out. “It’s great to play with them, they both have a lot of experience in this tournament,” said the goal scorer. “They are two really good players that I can learn a lot from.”
In response, Lang fired in a shot that was stopped on the goal line and Friberg’s extended stick slid into the puck in the Norwegian net.
Then at the other end, a crazy incident got many in the audience to look at the rulebook. A dumping and chase from centeris seemed routine until the puck bounced from the ankle of one of the linemen and flew straight into the Swedish net. A video review stated that the deflection from Nick Briganti went directly past Hellberg and thus the play was erased. Had another player touched the puck before crossing the finish line, Norway would have had a second marker.
Instead, it was Asplund who got his second of the match and steered home a Nylander feed at the back door. That takes Asplund to six goals and makes him the best sniper in this tournament so far, ahead of Swiss Nico Hischier at five.
Sweden now wants to secure a top two position and avoid a quarter-final trip to Helsinki. “We want to win every match,” Tomernes added. “It is a great advantage if we can finish first or second in the group and stay here in Tampere in the quarterfinals.”