MacKinnon scores OT winner, Swedes win group at World Cup of Hockey
Toronto (Canada) (AFP)
Nathan MacKinnon scored a brilliant overtime goal in the World Cup of Hockey to lift North America to a 4-3 win over Sweden, who advanced to the semi-finals despite the loss.
MacKinnon on Wednesday danced around a lunging Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist before finishing off the pretty deke with the backhand to the top of the net with just 49 seconds left in the extra period.
Team Sweden finished first in Group B and advanced to the semis because of the one point it received for losing in overtime. Sweden will next play the second-place team from Group A.
The North Americans need Russia to lose to Finland on Thursday to move on. A win by Russia would advance them to the semi-finals where they would play the winner of Group A.
After scoring, MacKinnon did another little jig, mistakenly thinking he had advanced his team to the semi-finals.
"Honestly when I scored I thought we were in, maybe we shouldn't have (celebrated) so hard," said MacKinnon, of Canada. "We gave ourselves a chance. It'll be stressful tomorrow but we have faith in the Finns."
MacKinnon's incredible goal came while the teams were playing three-on-three and capped off a razzle-dazzle play by North America.
It happened just 15 seconds after Daniel Sedin was denied on a breakaway by North American goalie John Gibson. North America moved the puck up the ice into the Sweden zone where Johnny Gaudreau and Shayne Gostisbehere combined to set up MacKinnon who was left alone in front of Lundqvist.
North America has quickly become the darlings of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey which is the third tournament of its kind in history and the first since 2004. The players are from Canada or the United States and are all under 24 years old.
North America started quickly Wednesday with two goals in the first 95 seconds, including one from 19-year-old American Auston Matthews. It was Matthews' second goal of the tournament.
Vincent Trocheck scored just over a minute later to make it 2-0.
Sweden eventually came back to force the overtime, setting the stage for MacKinnon's heroics.
- 'Most embarrassing' -
"Those first two minutes there, that was probably the most embarrassing part that I've ever been a part of on a team," said Swedish defenceman Erik Karlsson.
Lundqvist made 45 saves, giving him a total of 80 in two straight games after missing the opening game for Sweden due to an illness.
North American goaltender Matt Murray was scratched Wednesday after giving up some soft goals in a 4-3 loss to Russia on Monday. American Gibson finished with 35 saves against Sweden and looks to be set to replace Murray as the starter.
© 2016 AFP