Swedes run the table in Group B
by Chris JUREWICZ|21 MAY 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin

Sweden has completed a perfect 7-0 run during the preliminary round of the 2024 IIHF World Championship.

Three goals by the Swedes in the second period blew the game wide open as they went on to beat Slovakia 6-1 on Tuesday at Ostrava Arena.

The result didn’t have an impact on either team’s standing in Group B, with the Swedes having already locked up first place and Slovakia fourth. Still, the game gave both teams one final chance to prepare prior to the fun of quarter-final Thursday at Worlds.

"It was a good game for us. A good crowd, good for us to get the win heading to the playoffs," said Joel Eriksson Ek, who scored twice for the winners. "We got stronger as the game went on. We played more solid, moving more and more forward, and the second period really helped with those goals. We did a good job making the easy plays, moving the puck out of our zone."

The Swedes opened the scoring during an early powerplay. Adrian Kempe passed the puck back to the point to defender Victor Hedman, who moved in and made a slap pass to Lucas Raymond, who was parked in front of the net and deflected the puck past Slovakian goaltender Stanislav Skorvanek.

Unfortunately for Slovakia, Martin Pospisil left the game following a scary crash into the boards in the first period. Pospisil, who didn’t return, is second on the team in scoring with seven points (including three goals) so losing him for the playoffs would be a tough pill to swallow.

With about eight minutes to play in the second and with Slovakia on a powerplay, Juraj Slafkovsky was robbed by Filip Gustavvson with a shot in close. Slafkovsky drove the net for the rebound chance but put the puck off the post. That was Slovakia’s best chance of the period.

Moments later, Sweden’s Erik Karlsson scored his fifth of the tournament from a tough angle on a shot that Skorvanek would like to have back and it was 2-0.

Later, the Swedes scored two goals in 37 seconds. First, Andre Burakovsky scored on powerplay with a one-timed blast from his off wing. Isac Lundestrom then finished a nice play set up by Victor Olofsson to make it 4-0 Sweden, a lead the Swedes would carry into the final frame.

Eriksson Ek scored a shorthanded goal midway through the third when he took a Jonas Brodin stretch pass and rushed in for a partial breakaway, beating Skorvanek on the glove side. The goal really took the life out of the Slovakian fans in Ostrava Arena.

The Slovak crowd, however, did get something to cheer about with nine minutes to play with a pretty three-way passing play, with Slafkovsky feeding Tomas Tatar, who sent the puck to Michal Ivan for a one-timer into an empty net to make it 5-1 and break Gustavsson’s shutout bid. It was a beautiful goal to bring back some life into the building.

"We'll watch some video, learn from our mistakes, and be better next game," said Slovakia's Patrik Koch. "We have to win the little battles, shoot more, try to go to the front of the next, and score more goals. We haven't scored enough."

Eriksson Ek added his second of the game with 2:25 to play for a 6-1 Sweden lead. 

Sweden will now face Finland in the quarter-finals, with Slovakia taking on Canada. Slovakia is attempting to return to the medal podium for the first time since it won silver in 2012. Sweden last medaled in 2018 when it won gold.