Team Europe Edges Sweden in OT, Advances to World Cup Final

TORONTO — Despite being an assortment of eight different countries, Team Europe’s chemistry at the World Cup of Hockey hasn’t been an issue.

That was on display Sunday afternoon when Tomas Tatar took a cross-ice pass from Mats Zuccarello and scored the winner in overtime as Europe beat Sweden 3-2 in the tournament’s second semifinal.

“I don’t think anyone wants us here in the tournament and now we’re in the final,” said Zuccarello. “I think it’s something we’re really proud of and it’s fun to be here.”

Tatar’s second goal of the game – ruled a good goal after a quick video review – came 3:43 into extra time and set up a meeting with Canada in the best-of-three final, which starts Tuesday night. The Canadians advanced after a 5-3 victory Saturday night in the first semifinal.

 Marian Gaborik had the other goal for Europe (3-1-0) while Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves.

It’s not the first time Team Europe has stunned an opponent at this tournament. The team opened the World Cup with a surprising 3-0 win over the U.S and also beat Sweden in pre-tournament play on Sept. 14.

“It’s very disappointing for us,” said Sweden defenceman Victor Hedman. “We didn’t play well enough, especially not today. I think we were working uphill, obviously being down 2-1, we get the tying goal and then we had some chances in OT.”

Erik Karlsson and Nicklas Backstrom had goals for the Swedes (2-0-2) whileHenrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

Karlsson’s point shot, which appeared to re-direct off of European defencemanRoman Josi, beat a screened Halak with 4:32 remaining in the third to tie the game 2-2 and force overtime.

Tatar gave Europe its first lead of the afternoon 12 seconds into the third period, picking up his own rebound after Lundqvist mishandled the puck, and beat the New York Rangers goaltender for his first of the tournament.

Backstrom opened the scoring by putting home a rebound off of an Anton Stralman shot for his second of the tournament at 2:31 of the second. Team Europe challenged that Patric Hornqvist was interfering with Halak prior to the puck going in, but after a review, it was ruled a good goal.

Gaborik tied it 1-1 with 3:33 remaining in the second, redirecting a Christian Ehrhofffeed between the legs of Lundqvist for his second goal of the tournament.

Team Europe now has a tough task against a Canadian team, which has cruised through the tournament with a perfect 4-0-0 record.

“We’re certainly not going to be ready to come in and lose two games,” said European captain Anze Kopitar. “We’re going to come in, we’re going to try and play our game.

“They know how to play in big games. We’re going to try to come in here and spoil that.”

Article Written by Gare Joyce of Sportsnet.