TORONTO (AP) — Jacob Markstrom showed up to the Air Canada Centre on Sunday think that he was backing up star goalie Henrik Lundqvist in Sweden’s World Cup of Hockey opener against Russia.
Caught off guard when he found out Lundqvist was sent home due to an illness, Markstrom stopped 27 shots to help the Swedes beat Russia 2-1 in Group B play.
“I didn’t expect it, so, you’re surprised,” Markstrom saidt. “Mentally, it’s a little different (preparation) because you can’t really get in the zone (if you’re not starting), but everything physically, I try to do the same thing so if stuff like this happens, you’re ready.”
Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Hedman scored second-period goals for the Swedes.
Alex Ovechkin scored for Russia, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 27 shots in the Group B game.
Ovechkin thought he tied it with 7 seconds left, but officials waved it off , ruling the puck went off Ovechkin’s glove and in.
“I thought I touched it,” Ovechkin said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t see the replay. But I feel the touch. I don’t know if it was the puck or the stick. I definitely feel the touch on my hand on my stick.”
The Russians tested Markstrom early as Vladimir Tarasenko one-timed a shot off Evgeni Malkin’s faceoff win, but Markstrom was able to get his left pad on it and steer it aside just 30 seconds into the game.
Moments later, Tarasenko hit Markstrom in the mask with a shot that the Vancouver goalie was able to shake off.
Landeskog got Sweden on the board with a power-play goal , one-timing Erik Karlsson’s pass over Bobrovsky’s blocker at 10:41 of the second period. Less than 2 minutes later, Hedman one-timed Carl Hagelin’s feed glove-side past Bobrovsky.
Ovechkin scored with 33 seconds left in the third, putting a wrist shot from the point off the post and past a screened Markstrom.
Swedish coach Rikard Gronberg was pleased with the way the team executed the prepared game plan following a 6-2 loss to Team Europe in pretournament competition Wednesday.
“(We) wanted to make sure their transition game didn’t happen so quickly,” Gronberg said. “It was really important for us to have puck control. We didn’t want to get into a run and gun type of game with the Russian team because that’s where their strengths are.”
Russia will return to action Monday night against Team North America. The Swedes play Finland on Tuesday.
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