TORONTO – Tomas Tatar scored twice, including the winner 3:43 into overtime, as underdogs Team Europe defeated Team Sweden 3-2 on Sunday in Toronto to go to the World Cup final hockey series.
“Tomas intensified his mind and these two goals, really – he created the entire OT goal,” said the coach Ralph Krueger Team Europe. “When you see the fight on the wall against the boys who were much bigger than him, that’s where it all started. He ends up in the net, and found that continually means to do, and that’s the beauty of this team. ”
The series best-of-three begins Tuesday (20 pm, ESPN, CBC) with Europe taking Team Canada Hockey Jersey (4-0-0), which beat Russia in the other semi-final on Saturday. Canada beat Europe 4-1 in the first round.
Team Europe (3-1-0), a collection of players from eight European countries, surprised many by picking a squad of the Swedish Central (2-1-1).
“I felt like just before they scored the winning goal we had a situation two against one and we could not score,” said the coach of Sweden Rikard Grønborg. “If you put yourself in that position, one of the top four teams from this tournament, you go into overtime, it is evident that we did a lot of good things.
“That’s how I summarize, and I think obviously there are things you want to go back and change, but now I’m glad we first four, but I’m obviously disappointed that we are not the two best. ”
The goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 37 of 39 shots while improving his save percentage in the tournament at 0.946.
“I mean, Jaro was just an absolute leader in the room,” Krueger said. “Everybody wants to play for him. From day one, he caught the ball. … He was outstanding. It was absolutely fantastic. Everyone in this room knows that we would not be here without guards fabulous goal, and a world-class performance by Jaro Halak helped us a lot. ”
Nicklas Backstrom opened the scoring 2:31 into the second period to give Sweden the lead as Marian Gaborik tied for Europe to 4:27 p.m..
Europe took a 2-1 lead on the first goal of Tartar just 12 seconds into the third period, but Erik Karlsson equalized with less than five minutes remaining in regulation before the winner of Tartar.
Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who helped Sweden win gold at the 2006 Olympics, stopped 28 shots. He had a plan to prevent both Tatar goals. On the winning play, Lundqvist was caught out of position after attempting to play the puck behind the net.
Mats Zuccarello sent the puck from the left panels to the net and Tatar shoved into the net on the right side.
As Lundqvist was on the ice with his head down, curled Europeans the right corner and bounced on their skates to celebrate before shaking hands with the Swedes stunned.