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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rough-Playing Canada Seeks to Avoid Penalties

HELSINKI, Finland -- The Canadian team at the World Hockey Championships knows what must be done -- stay out of the penalty box -- but hasn't been able to accomplish it.


Two power-play goals gave Sweden a 3-2 victory Sunday in the first game of the best-of-3 gold medal final. The lack of discipline has Canada in a must-win posture for Game 2 on Tuesday if it hopes to force the series to its limit Wednesday.


Canada's penalty problems are nothing new.


Penalties nearly cost Canada a spot in the final after a game-ending brawl against the Czechs left it without two key players for a pivotal match against the Russians that decided the playoff pairings.


Canada managed a 2-1 win when the Russians scored into their own net, but the scare didn't result in a new attitude.


Canadians came out hitting again in the first game of the final, but it worked against them as Sweden's first two goals came on the power plays. "They haven't gained anything by using that kind of tactic so far,'' said Sweden's coach Kent Forsberg. "For the first couple of games they tried to play rough and they got penalties, which got them nowhere.''


Although Team Canada has been paying dearly for its indiscretions, the players insist they understand the need to practice a measure of self-restraint.


"Near the end of the match we always seem to show our frustration,'' said Boston Bruin Anson Carter. "We were born and bred in Canada and sometimes we let our emotions rise to the surface. We have to make sure we keep ourselves under control.''


The man-advantage situations have played directly into the game plan of the Swedes, who have scored four of their six power play goals this tournament against Canada.


"They play tight defensively, and it's hard to get a shot at the net,'' said Dean Evason, captain of the team and the only player not currently in North America's National Hockey League. "And when you do it's hard to get it past Tommy Salo.''


Canadians have been critical of the officiating at these championships, but American referee Don Adam was in charge of Sunday's contest and allowed the teams to play NHL-style hockey. But the Canadians were still guilty of taking bad penalties.


Sweden, once known for its placid approach to the game, has not backed down from the rough going and in fact has matched the Canadians check for check. "We both play the same type of hockey,'' said Evason. "In the Stanley Cup Playoffs you see that same type of defensive and patient game. There are a lot of guys on the Swedish team who play in the NHL or who could.


"Both teams are exercising patience, waiting for the other to make a mistake, for the other to crack.''