The high-powered offense of team Sweden that put up eight goals on 39 shots in Saturday’s 8-3 win over Switzerland was held to just one goal on 23 shots in Monday’s meeting with the United States juniors. Unfortunately for the United States, that’s all it took as Sweden skated off to a 1-0 win to open the World Junior Championships 2-0-0. They lead Group A with six points.
The loss to Sweden was compounded by the loss to one of its best players in Alex DeBrincat, the forward who was ejected from the opening game versus Canada for spearing. DeBrincat left Monday’s game after going hard into the boards after a hit by Ollas Mattsson. His status remains unknown.
Swedish goaltender Linus Soderstrom stopped all 46 shots on goal by the Americans, including 20 shots from the U.S. power play that went 0-for-8.
Sweden entered the meeting without one of its best players in William Nylander, who exited Saturday’s opener after taking a hit to the head by Switzerland’s Chris Egli. Egli received a five-minute major and game misconduct on the play and was suspended three games by the IIHF on Sunday.
On Monday it was the younger Nylander in the spotlight, as Alexander Nylander scored the game’s lone goal on a second period breakaway. Currently leading his junior club in Mississauga with 49 points in 33 games (21 G, 28 A), Nylander is a 2016 draft eligible prospect.
The U.S. spent nearly one quarter of the game on the power play and had eight players record three or more shots, but it was not enough to beat Soderstrom, the Islanders’ goaltending prospect followed up his 15-save performance versus Switzerland with a game-deciding performance against the Americans. His efforts helped earn him player of the game honors.
“Their goalie had a great game,” head coach Ron Wilson told NHL Network following the game. “Their best player by far was their goalie.”
Wilson added he did not see any need to make adjustments following the goalless game”
“I don’t think we have to make any adjustments,” he said. “All we’ve got to do is find a way to score some goals, if we could scored some goals tonight, it wouldn’t have been close.”
Still though, the Americans are looking to take some positives away from what was an otherwise strong performance against one of the favorites in this tournament.
“Their goalie played a hell of a game,” defenseman Louie Belpedio (2014 80th overall, Wild) told NHL Network. “I think there’s a lot of good to look at.”
The U.S. loss puts them 1-1-0 in Group A, after winning their opening meeting with team Canada 4-2 on Saturday. The Americans will return to action on Wednesday, when they take on Switzerland at 1:00 p.m. EST. The game can be seen in the United States on NHL Network.