By Philip O’Connor
(Reuters) – Sweden defeated Switzerland in a dramatic penalty shootout after a pulsating Ice Hockey World Championship final at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen on Sunday to retain the title they won against Canada in similar fashion a year ago.
With the game finishing 2-2 after overtimes, Swedish goalie Anders Nilsson saved three of five Swiss penalties and saw another fly wide to put his nation on the top step of the podium for the second year in a row.
With all the pressure on hot favorites Sweden, the Swiss took the lead late in the first period through Nino Niederreiter but Gustav Nyquist rifled the puck into the top corner to level within a minute.
Undeterred, the Swiss went ahead once again early in the second period when Nyquist was penalized for high sticking as Timo Meier steamed down the right side and swept home the puck as the Swedes got caught out switching players.
Switzerland had to endure huge pressure from the defending champions for much of the rest of the period and Mika Zibanejad put the Swedes level again with a power play goal as Enzo Corvi sat out a two-minute penalty for holding.
The Swedes tried to make the most of their superior skating with some mesmerizing movement but the stifling Swiss defense held firm and the game finished 2-2, forcing a frenetic scoreless overtime period in which Sweden’s Adam Larsson hit a post in the dying seconds.
Nilsson could not stop Sven Andrighetto’s first penalty but that puck was the last to ripple his net as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Filip Larsson scored before Nilsson stopped Niederreiter’s effort to claim the title.
Earlier, Nick Bonino, Anders Lee and Chris Kreider fired a three-goal salvo in five minutes late in the third period as the United States outclassed Canada 4-1 in the bronze-medal game.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Clare Fallon)