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World Juniors 2015 recap: Denmark gets first ever WJC victory in shootout win over Switzerland

Denmark needed at least a point to stay in medal round contention, and a potent powerplay helped them to get it.

Dennis Pajot

With Switzerland having three points in the bank from a win over the Czech Republic at the beginning of the tournament, a regulation victory versus groupmate Denmark would guarantee a berth in the one-game-elimination medal round.

Denmark needed at least a single point to stay in contention, as they came out on the losing end in the battle with the Czech Republic--the team with which they were tied for last place in the group heading into their final round robin game.

To begin the game, Switzerland looked like it was the most desperate team, controlling possession and not allowing Denmark out of their own zone. Denmark had no answer for the Swiss offensive board work, constantly losing battles to more determined attackers and giving up scoring chances. Illegal attempts to stop the Swiss momentum resulted in a boarding call on the cycle and an inteference penalty on the forecheck, but Switzerland was unable to capitalize with the man advantage.

Undeterred, Switzerland stuck with the game plan, and finally got their first goal as an uncontained cycle led to a shot on net, the rebound sitting near the front of the net for Kris Schmidli to fire home.

Just over a minute later, 2015 draft eligible forward Denis Malgin put in the work in the Danish zone to get the puck to the front of the net, sending a pass to recent Predators' draft pick Kevin Fiala, who one-timed it past a besieged Georg Sørensen.

It seemed that Denmark had nothing left in the tank after overachieving against Russia (holding a two-goal lead at one point and hitting posts that could have extended it even further) and the Czech Republic (losing a one-goal lead late in the third before succumbing in overtime). Defensive zone exits were few and far between, keeping Denmark to very few offensive opportunities in the frame.

But Denmark's top line doesn't need many offensive opportunities to make something happen.

On the Danes' first offensive rush of the period, Nikolaj Ehlers worked his way through the neutral zone to the slot, sending the puck back to linemate Oliver Bjorkstrand, who deked his Swiss defender and scored on Gauthier Descloux with just the fourth shot on the Swiss netminder eighteen minutes into the first.

Mads Eller ensured Denmark's push would continue on his next shift, drawing an inteference penalty in the offensive zone to end the period with his team up a man.

Denmark had a few good chances to score on that powerplay in the second, with Matthias Asperup getting a shot that just missed the net. He had another chance go just wide as he missed a shot farside moments later, with another great opportunity on a wraparound attempt off his own forecheck around the midway point of the period.

The play was more even in the second, with each time getting chances to score and Denmark looking like they were more confident in their game, the late goal and powerplay chance seeming to give them hope that they could come back from their early deficit.

The increased offensive zone time for the Danes gave them a chance to get the boardplay engaged, and, at the twelve minute mark, Siegenthaler had trouble with the forecheck of Nikolaj Ehlers and was called for boarding as he tried to contain the Danish winger.

Denmark executed the powerplay well, with lots of accurate puck movement. With a good screen in front, Anders Krogsgaard slapped a shot from the blueline, beating Descloux and tying the game at two.

Switzerland responded to the powerplay goal against immediately, as Timo Meier banked a shot off the back of Sørensen from behind the Swiss goalline less than thirty seconds later to restore the one-goal lead.

A good chip and chase by Bjorkstrand in the neutral zone a few minutes later forced Yannick Rathgeb to trip him up, sending the Danes back on the powerplay. Just seconds into the man advantage, Mikkel Aasgaard Hansen scored to tie the game up at three. The goal was Denmark's sixth powerplay tally of the tournament.

Denmark had a great opportunity to score the go-ahead goal in the third period as Bjorkstrand got the puck in a one-on-one situation with a Swiss defender in the offensive zone, and waited for Ehlers to catch up on the play for a two-on-one. His pass across to his linemate was returned, but several feet behind its intended target, resulting in no shot on what was a very promising chance.

After a great net drive by Meier to draw a powerplay for Switzerland, Luca Fazzini made a power move to get the puck across the top of the crease, but Sørensen got the pad out to rob him and keep the game tied.

Several more chances were turned aside by each goaltender in the final period, sending the game to overtime tied at three and giving Denmark the point they had to have to keep their medal round hopes alive.

The teams traded quality chances in overtime, but neither goaltender could be beaten in the five-minute four-on-four period.

Denmark went first in the shootout, nominating Nikolaj Ehlers to get things underway. Ehlers pulled off a series of dekes, firing a forehand attempt by Descloux for a 1-0 lead

Kevin Fiala was unable to score in Switzerland's first try in the game-winning shots competition

Oliver Bjorkstrand was up next for Denmark, copying Ehlers' deke manoeuvres before moving it to his backhand, lifting it over Descloux for a 2-0 edge.

Timo Meier had to score on his attempt, and score he did after faking the backhand the whole way to the net before quickly moving it and firing it home on the forehand to keep Switzerland in it.

Mikkel Aasgaard Hansen had a chance to end the game on Switzerland's next attempt, but Descloux shut down the five-hole to hold off the victory celebration.

Georg Sørensen ensured that delay was only temporary as he prevented Noah Rod from tying things up on Switzerland's final attempt, sealing Denmark's first ever win at the World Junior Championship.

Coming into the game needing a point to avoid an automatic spot in the relegation round. Denmark managed to get themselves up to third place in Group B, tied with Switzerland in points but holding the edge with the head-to-head victory. Having played their final round robin game, their fate now lies in the hands of their groupmates. Switzerland can jump ahead with anything other than a regulation loss in their final game versus Sweden tomorrow, while the Czech Republic will need at least an overtime victory versus Russia to move above Denmark to claim a quarter-final spot.

Switzerland will make the medal round as long as the Czechs don't win in regulation versus Russia, and has one more game versus Sweden to gain some points and control its own destiny.