The Swiss were dealt a blow today with a 5-3 loss to the Swedes in Group A action at the 2018 World Championships.
Once again for them it was penalties as two of the five Swedish goals were scored on the power play. The first one came when Reto Schaeppi of Switzerland was called for interference 4:19 into the game. That set up the game’s second power play (the Swiss had one earlier in the game that was killed off by Sweden) and John Klingberg converted on that one to make it 1-0 Sweden. Mika Zibanejad and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had the assists.
Three minutes and eleven seconds after that goal was scored, Raphael Diaz went off for cross checking, setting up the second Swedish power play of the game. Less than a minute into that man advantage, Patric Hornqvist scored from Elias Pettersson and Mikael Backlund to make it 2-0 Sweden.
The Swiss found themselves in a deep hole early on and it only got deeper 1:14 into the second period. Backlund scored from Hampus Lindholm to put the Swedes up by three.
Switzerland would finally get on the scoreboard at the 18:32 mark of the second when Ramon Untersander scored from Enzo Corvi to cut the deficit to 3-1. Diaz then scored from Kevin Fiala and Sven Andrighetto 4:26 into the third to cut the Swedish lead to one. But the damage was pretty much done.
Former Devil Adam Larsson scored from Backlund (who ended the night with a goal and three assists) to double the Swedish lead to 4-2.
The Swiss pulled goaltender Leonardo Genoni for the extra attacker with almost five and a half minutes remaining in the game. That was actually a 6-on-4 because Backlund had been called for high sticking which set up the faceoff in the Swedish zone that allowed Switzerland to pull their goalie at the same time.
However, Sweden killed off the penalty and Magnus Paajarvi scored from Backlund into the empty net.
Things were not finished though. Johan Larsson was called for holding with 19:11 gone by. It took six seconds, but Dean Kukan scored for the Swiss (assist to Untersander) to cut the score to 5-3 and Genoni was pulled again with a little less than 30 seconds left. And that was it. The early hole the Swiss found them in allowed the Swedes to come away with the victory.
Genoni made 36 saves on 41 shots against while Sweden’s Anders Nilsson made 20 saves on 23 shots against. Mirco Mueller’s stat line saw him with a shot on goal and an even plus/minus in 19:00 of ice time spread over 25 shifts.
So the Swiss now find themselves in fourth place in Group A just ahead of the Slovaks (who have a game in hand). They have nine points (two regulation wins, an overtime win, an overtime loss and two losses) and a 20-18 goal differential. Should Slovakia win their game with Russia tomorrow (and that would take a bit of a miracle in and of itself), they would leapfrog the Swiss into fourth place. An OT loss for Slovakia would tie them with Switzerland.
As for the Swiss themselves, they have France on Tuesday to close out preliminary play. We will have that game for you here as well as the US-Finland game. The US needs only a point to clinch Group B.
In other Devils prospect news, Marian Studenic and the Hamilton Bulldogs will be playing for the Memorial Cup, having clinched the Ontario Hockey League championship with a 5-4 game six win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds earlier today. Studenic had three shots on goal in the Hamilton win at FirstOntario Centre.
The Bulldogs will now represent the OHL at the Memorial Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan. They start the tournament against the host Regina Pats on Friday at 10 PM ET. The other teams in the tournament are the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the winners of the Western Hockey League, either the Swift Current Broncos or the Everett Silvertips (their championship series is still ongoing).