Through his first three games at the 2019 World Hockey Championship, Elias Pettersson had been kept relatively quiet. Sure, he had a point in all three games, and flashed some incredible skill in the tournament opener, but when other players are racking up points around you, a point-per-game pace isn’t quite as impressive.
The points were sure to come, of course. Pettersson already had 11 shots through three games without one finding the back of the net and there’s nothing like games against the lesser lights of the World Championship to get on a roll, as Loui Eriksson demonstrated against Italy.
Sure enough, when Sweden faced Austria, Pettersson finally got off the schneid, scoring his first goal of the tournament and adding a couple assists as part of a 9-1 walloping.
It’s the worst loss of the tournament so far for Austria, who had previously kept games close against Russia and Switzerland. The reinforced Sweden, who added John Klingberg, Philip Holm, and Gabriel Landeskog since their last game, were simply too much for an Austrian team that features just one NHLer, Philadelphia Flyers fourth-liner Michael Raffl.
The addition of Klingberg and Landeskog in particular almost feels unfair for a Swedish team that had outscored their opponents 17-1 since dropping their opener to the Czech Republic. That’s up to 26-2 after defeating Austria, though they have tougher games to come against Switzerland and Russia.
Landeskog’s arrival made an immediate impact as he scored on his first shift, assisted by none other than Pettersson. Swedish head coach Rikard Gronborg put Landeskog and Pettersson together on a line with Elias Lindholm, and the trio clicked immediately. After Landeskog won a puck battle along the boards, Lindholm fed the puck to Pettersson behind the net, who found Landeskog charging to the net with a great pass. Landeskog patiently pulled the puck around Austrian netminder Bernhard Starkbaum for the opening goal.
The goal a minute in opened the floodgates for Sweden, who scored four more goals before the end of the first period, all at even strength. They added a shorthanded goal to make it 6-0 in the second period before Pettersson, Landeskog, and Lindholm combined for another goal.
Pettersson picked off an outlet pass, then made a slick move between his legs, but was tripped by Alexander Rauchenwald in the process. The puck still found its way to Landeskog, who found a wide open Lindholm across the ice for the one-timer goal.
Finally, after Oliver Ekman-Larsson made it 8-0 in the third period, Pettersson found the back of the net.
Landeskog chased down defenceman Patrick Peter behind the net, stealing the puck and sending it out front to Lindholm. Starkbaum went into his butterfly, expecting the shot from Lindholm, but he instead sent a one-touch pass across to Pettersson, who had to dive out to get his stick on the puck and direct it home.
Loui Eriksson didn’t hit the scoresheet this time around and somehow ended up as the only minus player for Sweden in a 9-1 victory. Hilariously, it appears to be a mistake by the official scorer, as Eriksson wasn’t even on the ice for Austria’s lone goal.
Raffl scored the goal for Austria after a pretty play by Fabio Hofer to burst past Ekman-Larsson in the neutral zone and evade a diving Adam Larsson — the rare double-Larsson evasion. As the play developed in the neutral zone, however, Eriksson went off for a line change, with Mario Kempe coming on in his place. Eriksson had no reason to think this was a bad time to change — it was a fairly innocuous-looking 2-on-2 — but he got tagged with the minus instead of Kempe.
Ah well: no harm, no foul.
Pettersson now has six points in four games, fourth in scoring on Sweden behind William Nylander (10), Patric Hornqvist (7), and Anton Lander (7). If Pettersson continues to play with Landeskog and Lindholm, however, he should rack up a lot more points before the tournament ends.
Other Canucks at the World Championships
Canada vs France
Troy Stecher once again played more than 20 minutes for Team Canada, playing 20:27 in their 5-2 victory over France.
It was a closer game than you might expect, with France battling back after going down 3-0 in the first period to make it 3-2 early in the third. In the end, the Canadian attack was just too much for France to handle, as Canada out-shot the French 46 to 23.
After playing just 9:21 in Canada’s opening loss to Finland, Stecher has taken on a much larger role in subsequent games. That’s particularly true now that Canada has lost defencemen Brandon Montour and Dante Fabbro to injury. Montour is out for the rest of the World Championship, while Fabbro is expected to return later in the tournament.
Canada has added Flyers prospect Philippe Myers to the roster and he arrived in time for the game against France, but played just 9:08.