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World Cup Game Preview

Team Europe, Team Sweden vie for World Cup final spot

Europe looking for respect, upset against favored Sweden

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

TEAM EUROPE vs. TEAM SWEDEN 

Air Canada Centre, Toronto 

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN, CBC, TVA, TVA Sports) 

What's at stake

It's win or you're done. The winning team gets to move on to the best-of-3 championship-round series; the loser is eliminated because the semifinals in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 are one-off, must-win games. 

Team Europe

Coach Ralph Krueger was quite clear in his view of Team Europe heading into this game. 

"We're deservedly in the semifinal in this tournament, and the players deserve that respect back right now," he said. "I definitely don't see us as an underdog against Sweden." 

He doesn't because Team Europe had two relatively strong wins in the preliminary round, a 3-0 victory against Team USA that put it on the map and a 3-2 overtime win against Team Czech Republic that helped secure its spot in the semifinals. 

Team Europe's preliminary-round success came on the heels of a 6-2 win against Team Sweden in the final pretournament game for both teams. 

The feeling among the players and Krueger now is if they did it once, why not twice? 

"I know they have a very good team, but it's a one-game series and you don't need a lot of stuff to go your way to make some noise," forward Jannik Hansen said. 

Forward Mats Zuccarello led Team Europe with three points on a goal and two assists in the preliminary round. Leon Draisaitl had a team-high two goals. Goalie Jaroslav Halak played all 182 minutes and had a .946 save percentage, allowing six goals on 111 shots. 

Video: EUR@CAN: Hossa scores from sharp angle

 

Team Sweden

Memories of the 6-2 loss to Team Europe are fresh. It happened on Sept. 14 in Washington. It happened because Team Sweden was careless and Team Europe was opportunistic. 

Team Sweden's players have vowed that it will never happen again; however, hindsight being what it is, they are happy they have that experience in their memory banks going into the semifinals. 

"I think it was a good game to get the feel of them a little bit," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "Definitely we didn't play our best in that game so for sure it was good to get that type of game. You know what they are all about." 

Team Sweden is coming off a thrill-a-minute 4-3 overtime loss to Team North America on Wednesday. The pace was fast, intense, like two teams doing sprints back and forth, up and down the ice. 

That's nothing close to what Team Sweden expects Sunday. Team Europe has been more of a sit-back team in this tournament, waiting for mistakes with five players back in the zone, content to sacrifice aggressiveness for the sake of winning. 

"They really pack it in," left wing Carl Hagelin said. 

In a way, Team Europe's style could play into Team Sweden's hands, especially with how good it is at moving the puck from the back end up and how skilled the forwards are at keeping it in the zone to create chances. 

"It can, but we have to be smart," Hagelin said. "We can't be composed and think we can make every play that's out there. Sometimes we're going to have to chip and go because I think that's how you can create chances on their 'D'. They have some bigger guys who are really good if they keep you in front of them, but once they have to start turning then you can create some offense and create some turnovers. That's going to be one of the things we have to do." 

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 81 saves on 85 shots (.953 save percentage) in his two preliminary-round games. Center Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman Erik Karlsson each had three points. Team Sweden's seven goals were scored by seven different players. 

Video: NAT@SWE: Lundqvist denies McDavid in OT

 

Keep your eye on

Team Sweden's power play vs. Team Europe's penalty kill. 

Team Sweden has had the puck and generated shots on its power plays, but has scored only one goal on 10 opportunities, a big reason why it has played two one-goal games and a game that was a one-goal game before an empty-net goal was scored. Team Europe has had a dominant penalty kill, going 11-for-12 situations so far, including 4-for-4 against Team Canada. 

 

They said it

"I think we're happy with what we've accomplished so far, but for us it's not like this is it. We have a great chance here of doing something really special and making history with the first time Team Europe has been around. We want to take advantage of that opportunity. We are not satisfied with just reaching the semifinals." -- Team Europe defenseman Christian Ehrhoff 

 

Projected lineups 

TEAM EUROPE 

Tomas Tatar - Anze Kopitar - Marian Hossa  

Marian Gaborik - Frans Nielsen - Mats Zuccarello 

Tobias Rieder - Leon Draisaitl - Nino Niederreiter  

Thomas Vanek - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Jannik Hansen 

Andrej Sekera - Zdeno Chara  

Roman Josi - Dennis Seidenberg 

Mark Streit - Christian Ehrhoff 

Jaroslav Halak 

Thomas Greiss  

Injured: None 

Scratched: Mikkel Boedker, Luca Sbisa, Philipp Grubauer  

 

TEAM SWEDEN 

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Loui Eriksson  

Filip Forsberg - Nicklas Backstrom - Patric Hornqvist  

Carl Hagelin - Marcus Kruger - Jakob Silfverberg  

Gabriel Landeskog - Patrik Berglund - Carl Soderberg  

Mattias Ekholm - Erik Karlsson 

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Niklas Hjalmarsson  

Henrik Lundqvist 

Jacob Markstrom  

Injured: None 

Scratched: Hampus Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Jhonas Enroth

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