Sweden won World Junior Championship gold for the first time in 31 years with a 1-0 overtime victory over Russia in a fantastic game that saw everything from great scoring chances to miraculous goaltending.
The game saw no scoring through regulation and had Sweden dominate through the first two periods. The Swedes outshot the Russians 17-3 in the first and 22-1 in the second. In a surprise move, the Russians started Andrei Makarov (2012 eligible) who was nothing less than sensational.
If you'll remember, the Russians pulled Andrei Vasilevski (2012 eligible) with a 6-5 lead against Canada in a move many thought, including yours truly, was to rest him for this final game. But the move to start Makarov turned out to be the right decision even though the Russians lost.
The Russians seemed exhausted as the game wore on playing their third game in four nights, and as the game moved into overtime, they seemed to be playing to get to a shootout. Under IIHF rules, teams play a 20 minute sudden death overtime and if the game is still tied they head to a shootout.
Swedish goalie Johan Gustafsson (Minnesota 2010) was a little busier in the third making 12 saves off the Russians. But none was bigger than with around 30 seconds to play in regulation he stopped a Nikita Gusev (2012 eligible) redirect right on the doorstep that was almost a sure goal. And with that save we were headed to overtime.
Through overtime, there were chances at both ends but Sweden carried the play and had the most opportunities.
Mika Zibanejad (Ottawa 2011) scored at 10:09 of overtime for the victory. He stole the puck from Gusev at the Russian blue line and broke in alone on Makarov and beat him with a back hand on the blocker side.
Russia forward Nail Yakupov left the game in overtime with an apparent knee injury and didn't return. He was seen leaving the arena on crutches after the game and early indications last night were that he was going to miss significant time.