Canada will need ‘moon & stars’ to beat Swedes

The defending Olympic champions are expecting a close contest against Sweden in Sunday's final which both teams go into undefeated, with hockey experts also forecasting a tight game.

Canada will need 'moon & stars' to beat Swedes
Sweden and Canada competing against each other in the 2013 world hockey championship. AP Photo

Forget the hockey gods — Team Canada should check their horoscope before Sunday's Olympic gold medal game against unbeaten Sweden.

"You have to line up the moon and the stars to win," said Canada's coach Mike Babcock.

Defending champions Canada booked their spot in the gold medal game by throwing a blanket over the USA's potent offence. But they will face a powerful Swedish team in the final of the Sochi tournament that prides itself on winning with great goaltending and solid defence.

Both teams have 5-0 records in Sochi, and both are seeking to become the first team to go through an Olympic tournament undefeated since NHL players started participating in the Olympics at the Nagano Games.

The Sidney Crosby-led Canadians have a star-filled roster while Sweden have a defence that can do it all — score goals as well as defend — and the best goaltender in the tournament, Henrik Lundqvist.

The Canadians are no slouches either on defence as they shut down the high-powered USA in Friday's semi-final, winning 1-0. But now they face a completely different challenge from a Swedish team that prides itself on making few mistakes and winning tight games.

"It could be another 1-0 game," said Canada forward Matt Duchene. "It wouldn't surprise me with the way Sweden plays."

Sweden advanced by defeating an injury-hit Finnish team 2-1.

Canada are bidding to become the first team to retain the Olympic gold medal since the Soviet Union in 1988. Their latest victory came over an explosive American team that had scored more goals than any other team.

But Canada forechecked the USA fiercely in their own end forcing turnovers, not allowing them to gain any speed skating through the neutral zone and moved the puck quickly and effectively out of their own end.

Ken Holland, the general manager of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, said during Saturday's practice that Canada's ability to get the puck quickly and effectively out of their own end was key.

"They (USA) had their moments in our zone. They had their opportunities. But I thought when our defence got their hands on the puck they made good passes to transition from defence to offence," said Holland, who is part of Team Canada's management group in Sochi.

Canada's gold medal hero from four years ago in Vancouver, Crosby, is playing well but is not being rewarded on the scoresheet.

Crosby, who scored the winning goal in overtime to lift Canada to a 3-2 victory over the USA in the gold medal match at the 2010 Games, has just two assists in five games. But he is chipping in defensively as part of the team effort.

Crosby said he is not thinking about individual stats and seems content to simply ride this one out with his team-mates rather than steer the team bus.

Asked if he was thinking about the possibility of scoring another golden goal, Crosby said: "I don't think that goes through your mind. It is another opportunity for us. We all worked a long and hard time to get to play in the gold medal game. Ultimately we need to be our best when it means the most here in the final."

Sweden's best player so far has been defenceman Erik Karlsson, who is the tournament co-leader in points with four goals and eight points in five games.

Both Sweden and Canada have been getting big offensive performances from their defence. Canada's leading goal scorer in the tournament is defenceman Drew Doughty, with four goals.

Swedish forward Daniel Sedin said his team are improving with each game.

"Our first game was our worst game and this one was our best game, so that's a good sign," he said after Sweden's win over Finland.

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Sweden beat Swiss to win ice hockey world title in shoot-out drama

Sweden retained their world championship title with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over plucky Switzerland in Copenhagen on Sunday.

Sweden beat Swiss to win ice hockey world title in shoot-out drama
Swiss players react after the defeat to Sweden. Photo: AFP

Filip Forsberg of the NHL's Nashville Predators scored the winning penalty as Sweden came back from 1-0 down in the shoot-out to win 2-1 following a 2-2 draw after overtime.

Surprise finalists Switzerland had been aiming for their first ever world title, while Sweden claimed an 11th crown.

Sweden had been the only unbeaten team through the group stage while Switzerland scraped into the quarter-finals with the weakest record.

But they stunned Group B winners Finland and then Canada to take their place in a third world championship final.

Five years ago they had lost to Sweden, who beat them 5-3 in the group stages too.

Switzerland twice took the lead, in each of the first two periods, but were pegged back by the favourites before the end of each stanza.

Minnesota Wild's Nino Niederreiter had given them a 16th minute lead but Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings equalised a minute later.

On 23 minutes Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks put the underdogs in front again, but that was wiped out by New York Ranger Mika Zibanejad on 34 minutes.

With no scores in either the third period or overtime, the final was decided by a shoot-out where Switzerland once again took the lead.

But Oliver Ekman-Larsson cancelled out Sven Andrighetto's successful strike, allowing Forsberg to become the hero.

Christopher Kreider of the Rangers scored twice as the United States thumped Canada 4-1 to take the bronze medal.

 After Kreider opened the scoring, Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the Sharks equalised.

But goals from Nashville's Nicholas Bonino and Anders Lee of the New York Islanders put the US in charge before Kreider rounded out the win.