With their star-studded lineup, not many were surprised when Team Sweden came storming out of the gate. They got the first goal when the game was barely three minutes old, with top prospects William Nylander Altelius and Filip Karlsson playing catch with each other, virtually unrestrained. Nylander circled the net and centered to Karlsson, whose low one-timer beat Gauthier Desloux, the Swiss netminder who appeared to be in for a long night.
The Swiss were tenacious however, and kept the Swedish attack relatively at bay the rest of the period. They got some good penalty killing efforts and a lot of blocked shots from their forwards and defencemen. They didn´t gain much offence however, as a lengthy power play late in the period, which included eight seconds of five-on-three time, yielded only 1 shot on Jesper Eriksson, who barely broke a sweat in the opening 20 minutes.
The game virtually turned on its head in the second period, however. The Swiss were suddenly coming out gunning, as Timo Meier had a great chance in the opening minute, forcing Eriksson to make a nice pad save, and minutes later the Swedish keeper absolutely robbed Tino Kessler on a two-on-one.
Swedish head coach Anders Eriksén tried to settle his troops down by calling a timeout, but it didn´t work. In the 29th minute, Switzerland tied the game when Noah Rod centered to Denis Malgin, whose one-timer found space just inside the post.
After a penalty kill, the Swedes seemed to be recovering their composure, and when Nylander and Filip Karlsson hooked up for the second time in the game late in the period, it looked like Tre Kronor was back in form.
Oh, but they weren´t. Right off the centre-ice faceoff, Sin Schläpfer pounced on a neutral zone turnover and fed Noele Trisconi, who waited for Eriksson to commit before firing a shot under the crossbar to tie the game back up just 11 seconds later. If Eriksén had anything to be grateful for after two periods, it was that his team had played about as bad as they possibly could and were still tied.
The third period didn´t start any better for the Swedes, as Adrian Kempe took an undisciplined cross-checking penalty in the neutral zone. While the Swiss power play hadn´t looked very potent to this point, they managed to put on some pressure this time, with Tino Kessler finally scoring on a rebound.
The Swedes tried to re-compose themselves and mount an attack, but they kept running into the stifling Swiss team defence, which no longer seemed intimidated by the talented Swedes. Descloux made a couple of fine saves as well, and they got a bit of luck when a shot in close from captain Anton Karlsson with less than six minutes to play went off the goalpost. Even during a lengthy five-on-three advantage, they couldn´t find the equalizer.
Finally, it was another undisciplined penalty by Kempe that finished the Swedes off, as he was called for cross-checking in the attacking zone with 2:06 left. Apart from a quick shorthanded rush from Henrik Tornqvist, the Swiss kept the puck far from their own net the rest of the way, hand held on for the opening-day upset.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)