Playing a game with the incentive of a bronze medal for the winning squad, the pace of the third-place game at the 2016 World Junior Championship was understandably a bit slower than we've seen from the other games of the playoff rounds.
USA came out with more jump than the Swedes, controlling the play in the first period. That advantage in zone time finally paid off for the team at the 12-minute mark, when Anders Bjork pounced on a rebound off goaltender Felix Sandstrom to give the US a 1-0 lead.
The Americans continued to be the better team after scoring the opening goal, and a net drive from Auston Matthews on one of their numerous offensive forays forced Jacob Larsson to take a hooking penalty to prevent another goal.
It turned out the penalty only delayed the Americans from going up 2-0, as a Zack Werenski point shot was deflected by Matthew Tkachuk right at the end of the man-advantage opportunity.
The Swedes made it a more competitive game minutes later, when Adrian Kempe sent a nice backhand touch pass to William Lagesson, who scored to break the US run.
Fifty-five seconds later, Carl Grundstrom was the recipient of another skillful pass in the offensive zone, this time from Joel Eriksson Ek, and he tied the game up late in the first period.
The United States regrouped in the first intermission, and came out to start the second in the dominant fashion they showed to begin the game. They were rewarded for the change in momentum with another lead, as Brock Boeser got his stick on a Will Borgen point shot just over two minutes in.
The lead was restored to the two-goal advantage the US has previously enjoyed on a great 3-on-2 rush from the American end. Ryan MacInnis was shut off at the offensive blue line by a Swedish defender, but Brandon Carlo was right there to pick up the puck and continue in a two-on-one. Carlo made a nice pass across to a net-driving Ryan Donato, and he converted the play into the US' 4-2 goal.
Alexander Nylander appeared to score to erase another two-goal deficit for the Swedes, but a review determined that he had tipped the puck above the level of the crossbar, and was waved off. That seemed to be the dagger in Sweden's medal aspirations, as they put up little fight for the rest of the period.
The US capitalized on the lowered effort level, with Bjork breaking out some slick hand skills to first deke Marcus Pettersson on his way to the net, then lifting the puck nearly straight up over the shoulder of Sandstrom for his second goal of the game to increase the lead to three.
That went to four with nine seconds left in the middle frame, as Carlo took a backhand cross-ice feed from Nick Schmaltz and scored the Americans' sixth goal of the game.
Donato scored yet another goal three-and-half minutes into the third, after MacInnis had deflected a Swedish reverse of the puck behind the net, sending it out to the front of the net. Tkachuk made it 8-2 on a two-on-one later in the third.
Axel Holmstrom added a goal right at the end make it 8-3, and that's how the bronze medal game of the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship ended.
The gold medal game goes at 1:30 PM EST today, as Russia will battle host Finland for the championship. You can follow along with the action in our game thread.