André Burakowsky scored a hat trick as Sweden thrashed Norway 10-0. The Swedes remain perfect heading into their New Year’s Eve showdown with Russia.
Norway completes its round-robin slate versus Switzerland on Monday in a game it must win to have a chance of avoiding relegation play. Through three games, the newly promoted Norwegians have been outscored 26-1.
"We weren’t even close in this game," said Norwegian assistant captain Mattias Nørstebø. "We were giving them so much time in our zone, and they were making good plays."
Alexander Wennberg, Sebastian Collberg, Gustav Olofsson, Nick Sörensen and Elias Lindholm tallied a goal and two assists apiece for the host nation. Robert Hägg and Robin Norell also scored. Captain Filip Forsberg added three helpers.
"I thought we played well," said Olofsson. "We came out strong and dictated the tempo. We played all 60 minutes even though we were up 6-0 after the second period. We still kept going and pushed all the way through, which I think is important for us to grow and be ready for the next game."
In a battle of backup goalies, Sweden’s Marcus Högberg got the best of Norway’s Henrik Haukeland as he recorded a shutout in his World Junior debut. The Swedes outshot Norway 45-13.
"It’s obviously good for his confidence and good for the team," said Lindholm of Högberg. "He played really good."
Sweden played dominant, controlled hockey from the get-go, and drew first blood at 3:26. Norwegian forward Jens Tonjum knocked over his own goalie while sliding into the net on the backcheck. That gave Olofsson all kinds of time and space to put a high drive over the prone Haukeland.
At 8:55, Sweden went up 2-0 on the power play. After a flurry in front of the net, Lindholm found Burakowsky in the right faceoff circle, and he whipped a high one past Haukeland on the short side. Seconds later, Burakowsky zoomed into the Norwegian zone and zinged the puck off the crossbar.
At 15:42, Burakowsky lined up another power play one-timer that entered and exited the net so quickly it had to be video-reviewed. The partisan crowd of 11,296 fell silent and waited before celebrating a 3-0 lead.
Despite killing off two penalties in the first period, Sweden outshot Norway 14-1.
Just 1:16 into the second, Hägg launched a center point bomb off a faceoff win that beat Haukeland glove side and made it 4-1.
Burakowsky completed his hat trick at 5:01. Norwegian defenceman Christer Simonsen fell over in the neutral zone, enabling Nick Sörensen to zoom past him down the left side, and when Haukeland stopped Sörensen, Burakowsky was there to roof the rebound.
Halfway through the game, Forsberg dipsy-doodled along the goal line and fed a pass across the crease for Collberg’s easy 6-0 tap-in with the man advantage.
Norell made it 7-0 Sweden with a center point wrister through traffic at 3:40 of the third period. Wennberg's 8-0 goal less than three minutes later came on a nifty close-in set-up from Collberg.
Lindholm and Sörensen rounded out Sweden's scoring with pretty, late power play goals.
Forward Markus Søberg, Norway’s lone NHL-drafted player (Columbus Blue Jackets, 2013, sixth round, 165th overall), played his first game at the World Juniors after returning from an injury. He got one of Norway’s few good chances late in the second period when he stickhandled through the Swedish defence, but couldn’t deceive Högberg with his deke.
A pre-game tribute to Tre Kronor legend Mats Sundin set the stage for a night of celebration at the Malmö Arena.
Can Norway get a glimmer of hope against the Swiss? "We’re going to go 100 percent for that game," Nørstebø said. "That’s our opportunity here in this tournament, and hopefully we can play a great game tomorrow."
Of facing the Russians, Lindholm said: "They’ve had some amazing results against Switzerland and Norway. It’s going to be a tough game. We have to enjoy this game tonight and get focused again tomorrow."
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)