COLOGNE, Germany — Canada felt the sting of its loss to Sweden at the world championship a little more than usual thanks to the tournament format.
Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in a shootout as Sweden beat Canada 2-1 on Sunday to capture gold, spoiling the Canadians’ attempt to win the title for a third straight year.
“We don’t feel like we lost a hockey game tonight, we feel like we lost a shootout,” said Canadian coach Jon Cooper. “I told our guys ‘hang your head high.’ We knew the rules going in, it was part of the format, and they bested us.
“I thought both goaltenders were exceptional but in the end it came down to a skill competition. They were better than us and in the end, they deserved to be world champs.”
Backstrom, Sweden’s second shooter in the shootout, beat Canadian goaltender Calvin Pickard low to the stick side and Oliver Ekman-Larsson caught Pickard moving on Sweden’s next attempt to go up 2-0.
Sweden’s Henrik Lundqvist stopped Nathan MacKinnon, Brayden Point, Ryan O’Reilly and Mitch Marner to secure the gold.
“It’s tough,” said MacKinnon. “We couldn’t score and it’s a shootout. It’s a weird way to finish but if we won we wouldn’t be talking about it — we’d just be excited. Obviously, we’re very disappointed.”
Victor Hedman scored a short-handed goal late in the second period to give the Swedes a 1-0 lead. Lundqvist picked up the win with 42 saves.
Lundqvist joined his twin brother and team captain Joel on Sweden midway through the tournament after his New York Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was Henrik’s first appearance at the world championship since 2008 and his first time playing with his brother since the pair competed together in the Swedish Elite League during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
They hadn’t played together internationally since the 2002 world junior championship.
“It’s a very special moment for both of us, to stand out there and to pull it off,” Henrik said. “We knew we had a chance, we knew we had the team, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to pull it off but we did. That’s why I came here, so it’s an awesome feeling.”
O’Reilly tied the game at 1-1 with a power-play goal for Canada early in the third. Pickard stopped 40 shots.
The win is Sweden’s first in four tries against Canada since the IIHF instituted the playoff system in 1992 and its first gold medal since 2013.
Hedman got Sweden on the scoreboard with Backstrom serving his second penalty of the game. Hedman’s bouncing shot from the point off a broken play eluded Pickard with 20.8 seconds left in the period.
“I got a fortunate bounce,” said Hedman. “I wasn’t really friends with the puck there in the second period. I just threw it at the net. Joel (Lundqvist) and Krugs (Marcus Kruger) did a good job in front of the goalie and I don’t think he saw it. I got a lucky bounce and the puck had eyes. It was good.”
The Canadians once again used their lethal power play to get back into the game in the third with Elias Lindholm was whistled for high sticking at 1:48. It took just 10 seconds for O’Reilly to tie the game at 1-1, flipping a Mitch Marner rebound over Lundqvist’s right shoulder. It was the first special-teams goal that Lundqvist had surrendered in five tournament games.
Both teams had chances in the extra period. Sean Couturier was whistled for tripping with 10:51 left in overtime but the Canadian penalty killers were up to the task. Alex Killorn fed Matt Duchene with a nifty spin-o-rama pass late in overtime, but his shot was stopped by Lundqvist.
Earlier on Sunday, Russia defeated Finland 5-3 to capture its second consecutive bronze medal.