With the final standings in Group A already settled before Thursday's game between Canada and Sweden took place, there was nothing on the line in the last game of the round robin.
Apparently, no one informed the players.
The game started fast, and a bit too furious for the Canadians, who found themselves overrun in their own end. The Swedes had several dangerous chances and shots on goal in the opening moments. After one such offensive foray, Jake Virtanen got too aggressive in a post-whistle scrum, and was sent off for roughing, giving the potent Swedish special teams unit a power play opportunity.
It didn't take long for Canada to pay for the transgression, with Alexander Nylander pouncing on a rebound off MacKenzie Blackwood just second into the five-on-four.
Less than a minute later, Rourke Chartier was called for a high stick on a follow-through of a shot, with Anthony Beauvillier joining him in the box soon after the give Sweden a short five-on-three opportunity. As Chartier was racing to help his team's defence upon his exit from the box, Gustav Forsling fired a shot from the point that beat Blackwood and gave Sweden and early 2-0 lead.
Seeing that the skill game was going in their opponents' favour, Canada switched to a more physical game, with Travis Konecny applying a big hit at the Swedish blue line to announce the shift in style.
Sweden attempted to match the physical play, with defenders going out of their way to get hits on Canadian forwards along the boards in their own end. One such hit opened up the middle of the ice for Mitchell Stevens, and the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect took advantage of situation to get Canada on the board.
Any momentum that Canada may have received after the goal was immediately wiped out by a penalty to Lawson Crouse, sending Canada to the box for the fourth time in the period.
Canada got its first real pressure of the period in the last minute, hemming Sweden in its own end for a rare shift not spent in its own zone, but, overall, the period belonged to Sweden, leading the shot column 12-6, and having a proportional 2-1 lead on the scoreboard.
The second period swung more in Canada's favour, outshooting Sweden 12-7, but a controversial slashing penalty to Brendan Perlini sent the Swedes to yet another power play. Axel Holmström sent an excellent cross-crease pass to Adrian Kempe, and the Swedes scored their third power-play goal of the game.
The chance of a Canadian comeback was diminished seven minutes into the third period, when William Karlsson pounced on a Blackwood rebound to give Sweden a 4-1 advantage.
Mitchell Marner made things interesting with a five-on-three goal late in the third period. Canada kept the pressure on for the remainder of the five-on-four chance, but was unable to reduce the deficit to any less than two goals. The Swedes sealed the victory with an empty-net goal to take the game by a 5-2 score.
Sweden extended their run to 36 straight group-stage victories at the World Junior Hockey Championship, taking the full complement of 12 points from the four games played so far. They will take on Slovakia in a quarter-final matchup on Saturday. Canada limps into the playoff round with just one regulation victory, and will face Jesse Puljujarvi, Patrik Laine, and the offensive juggernaut that is Team Finland on the first day of elimination play.