STOCKHOLM – Sweden became the first host country to win an IIHF World Championship in 27 years in large part because of the addition of Vancouver Canucks forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin during the tournament.
Henrik scored the winning goal, assisted on a third goal and scored into an empty net in Sweden’s 5-1 victory over Switzerland in Sunday’s sold-out championship game at Globe Arena.
“To play in front of your home fans in your country and be able to win, that doesn’t happen often so that’s pretty amazing,” Henrik said.
“I don’t want to compare it to the NHL because I think it’s different, but as far as national team, it’s up there with an Olympic gold medal for sure.”
Henrik compiled four goals and five assists and twin brother Daniel had a goal and five assists in four games they played after the Canucks were swept in the first round of NHL playoffs by the San Jose Sharks.
The twin brothers had the most impact on Sweden’s power play. After scoring just two power-play goals in their first seven games of the tournament, Sweden scored five in their final three games. Daniel assisted on four and Henrik on three.
Henrik batted a puck out of the air for a power-play goal in the second period Sunday that pushed Sweden ahead 2-1.
“They showed they’re two of the best players in the world,” teammate Gabriel Landeskog said. “I can confidently say that, whether they won a (Stanley) Cup or not.
“Everyone was feeding off of them.”
Erik Gustafsson, Simon Hjalmarsson and Loui Eriksson also scored for Sweden, which became the first country to win the title at home since the Soviet Union in Moscow in 1986.
Nashville Predators defenceman Roman Josi scored for Switzerland. The Swiss, coached by Canadian Sean Simpson of Brampton, Ont., was the surprise of the tournament. Unbeaten until the final, the country hadn’t won a medal of any colour in 60 years until Sunday.
“We’re disappointed about the game,” Simpson said. “We lost it, and we won nine games before. Not many people believed before the tournament that we would play in a world championship final.
“I’m very proud of the work our team has done and about the silver medal. Switzerland has to be proud of this team.”
Josi, 22, became the first player from his country to be named the tournament’s most valuable player. He had four goals and five assists in 10 games and was also named best defenceman.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth made 26 saves for Sweden and was named top goaltender. Former NHL goalie Martin Gerber stopped 22 shots for the Swiss.
The United States defeated the Finns 3-2 in a shootout for bronze. Canada finished fifth after losing in the quarter-finals for a fourth straight year.
Sweden started the tournament on a sour note with a 3-2 loss to the Swiss. They struggled to generate offence for much of the preliminary round, in which they finished third in their pool at 5-2 behind Switzerland and Canada.
The arrival of the Sedins injected confidence into the team and revitalized Sweden’s attack.
Sweden scored two power-play goals in their 3-2 shootout win over Canada in the quarter-final and another two in a 3-0 victory over Finland in the semifinal.
Canucks defenceman Alex Edler joined Sweden’s lineup with the Sedins, but he did not play in the semifinal or final. He was suspended for two games for his knee-on-knee contact with Canadian captain Eric Staal in the quarter-final.
“We had a meeting when everyone came, when the Sedins and Edler came,” Landeskog said. “We had a team meeting and talked about how it’s us against the world, media were against us and sometimes the crowd were against us. For us, it motivated us. It united us in the room and brought us together.
“For us to come together like we did, especially in the playoffs, was an amazing feeling. Obviously beating Canada in the quarter-finals kind of gave us that push to keep going and we rolled over Finland and rolled over here.”
Daniel was hit hard into the open gate on Sweden’s bench in the third period. He was in pain, but shook it off for the post-game celebrations.
“We’ve been to the Stanley Cup finals before. We lost in a seventh game. That’s obviously tough,” Daniel said. “Won Olympic gold. This is going to be up there with Olympic gold I would say. To do it on home ice is pretty neat.”
Notes: The 2014 IIHF World Championship will be held in Minsk, Belarus . . . Finland forward Petri Kontiola led the tournament in scoring with eight goals and eight assists in 10 games and was named top forward.