The bronze medal game was a battle of titans. Both Sweden and Russia are both supposed to be perennial contenders for the gold medal, and yet have found themselves falling short more often than either hockey nation is comfortable with.
The game did not start well for the Canadiens, in that Mikhael Sergachev took a big shot off the chest in the first two minutes of the game, and looked to be in a great deal of distress as he headed off. However, he remained in the game, so Habs nation can breathe a sigh of relief
Sweden drew the first man advantage, and though they got chances, they didn’t capitalize. Sweden more or less ran the show in the first half of the period, outshooting Russia 8-1 in that stretch.
Russia pushed back in the second half, but still could not match shots, and took two penalties in rapid succession.
After 20, shots were 15-3, and the score was tied at zero.
The Russians came out on fire, and Kirill Kaprizov scored on their fourth shot of the game, sixteen seconds into the period.
Sweden struggled to hold off Russia through the first five minutes, but there was a bit of a scare for Russia as two Swedes and a Russian collided and went into Ilya Samsonov, who got up slowly. However, he seemed to shake it off, and the play continued.
After firing 20 shots on net, Sweden finally scored, as Jonathan Dahlen put away his fifth of the tournament.
Seconds later, however, Sergachev drew a penalty against Joel Eriksson Ek, but the Russians were not able to match a shot. They got a second opportunity on the man advantage a few minutes later, but though they got shots this time, including a big one from Sergachev, they were unable to capitalize.
Samsonov made a sprawling save with just about two minutes later, landing awkwardly, and appeared to be in some pretty serious discomfort, but he remained in the game, making absolutely terrific saves in the last minutes of the period.
After 40, shots were 29-11 for Sweden, and the biggest question was whether or not Samsonov would finish the game.
Surprisingly, Samsonov returned for the third period, and appeared to be less uncomfortable than he had earlier, though by the time the game reached the final five minutes, he was definitely laboring again. The final frame was far more even than the previous periods had been shots being 7-6 for Sweden through the first half, and both teams getting chances. There were few whistles, and no penalties, and both teams came within inches of getting the go-ahead goal.
The game went to OT, but extra time did not last long, as Denis Guryanov scored the game winner to give Russia the bronze.
Russia wins the bronze in OT pic.twitter.com/SGtL5rhkmc— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 5, 2017
There is no question that, while Guryanov scored the OT goal, Samsonov was the hero of this game, battling through injury and making some huge saves to keep Russia in the game, saving 38-39 shots.
Russia has now won a medal in seven straight years.