International Ice Hockey Federation

Swedes pound Austria

Forsberg’s hat trick paces Tre Kronor to victory

Published 03.05.2015 15:01 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Swedes pound Austria
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 3: Sweden's Filip Forsberg #9 celebrates with Anton Lander #58 and Loui Eriksson #21 after scoring a second period goal against Austria during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Filip Forsberg scored three goals and added an assist as Sweden waltzed past Austria 6-1 in Sunday’s early game at the O2 Arena. The Swedes remain undefeated.

Anton Lander had a goal and an assist, and Oscar Klefbom and Elias Lindholm also scored. Loui Eriksson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two helpers apiece. Shots favored Sweden 41-17.

"I thought we had a good game and made a lot of chances," said Eriksson, who skated alongside Forsberg and Lander. "We had some pretty goals. When you give Filip time, he's good in those situations."

Goalie Anders Nilsson, who backstopped Sweden to bronze last year, got his first tournament start. Meanwhile, Austria’s Rene Swette received his first career elite World Championship start, but was yanked after allowing six goals. His only previous appearance was in 2013, relieving incumbent Bernhard Starkbaum in an 8-4 loss to Russia.

Dominique Heinrich replied for the newly promoted Austrians.

The last time Austria beat Sweden at the Worlds was a 2-1 decision on February 23, 1947, in Prague, of all places. (That final-day result, combined with Czechoslovakia's 6-1 win over the United States, forced Sweden to settle for silver -- Czechoslovakia came first and the Austrians took bronze.) However, history wasn't about to repeat itself here.

Fired up from their 4-3 shootout upset over Switzerland, the Austrians made a brief early push as their surprisingly large fan contingent in the crowd of 14,051 bounced up and down, singing and clapping. But the Swedes maintained their cool.

"We're happy with the win, although we're not happy with the way we played the first 15 minutes," said Jimmi Ericsson. "Anders played a great game and kept us in."

An unobstructed Forsberg fought off Konstantin Komarek – yesterday’s shootout hero – for the puck inside the Austrian blue line, stickhandled down the middle and beat Swette high to the blocker for a 1-0 lead at 13:38.

"Once we got the first goal, I think we took over and we just kept going," said Swedish captain Staffan Kronwall.

Tre Kronor went to the dressing room with a 3-0 advantage after 20 minutes, thanks to two quick, similar plays originating from Wayne Gretzky’s so-called “office,” behind the net.

First, Joel Lundqvist’s aggressive forechecking on defenceman Florian Muhlstein freed up the puck for Mattias Sjogren, who centered it to Klefbom, and he made no mistake at 18:37.

Just 41 seconds later, Forsberg sent the puck behind the net to Loui Eriksson. He sent it out to Lander, who showed good patience before slipping it past Swette.

In the second period, Forsberg gave the Swedes a 4-0 edge at 8:22, taking a nice cross-ice pass from Eriksson, eluding Martin Schumnig, and sliding a backhander five-hole.

It was 5-0 less than a minute later as Lindholm picked off an errant Brian Lebler pass in the neutral zone, hustled down left wing, and zipped it through Swette’s legs.

Forsberg completed his hat trick at 11:14, taking a sweet breakaway feed from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, splitting the Austrian defence, and going top cheese. That was it for Swette, who was replaced by Starkbaum. Swedish fans happily chucked hats on the ice to celebrate the rookie star of the Nashville Predators.

Michael Raffl, the Austrian roster's lone NHLer (Philadelphia) who once played with Forsberg in Leksand, said: "He's one of the best players in the tournament and you can't give him chances like we gave him today."

The only downside for Tre Kronor was Heinrich's third-period tally with 6:43 left, which spoiled Nilsson's shutout bid.

Sweden's next opponent is Latvia on Monday. The Austrians will battle France on Tuesday.