Wings’ Tatar is hero, Europe makes World Cup finals

Associated Press
Tomas Tatar scores the winning goal in overtime on Sunday.

Toronto — Tomas Tatar of the Detroit Red Wings scored his second goal 3:43 into overtime, lifting Team Europe to a 3-2 win Sunday over Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey semifinals.

The eight-nation European team will begin a best-of-three series against Canada on Tuesday night.

Europe will be heavy underdogs against the host Canadians, who have won two straight Olympic gold medals and 14 consecutive games in best-on-best tournaments.

That’s just the way the Europeans like it.

Few, if anyone, expected the roster of players from the continent’s non-traditional hockey powers to be among the final two in the event created by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association.

Everybody, though, with at least a passing interest in the sport would recognize at least some of the players who started Sunday’s game: Anze Kopitar, Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara.

And with goaltender Jaroslav Halak, the Europeans seem to have a shot to stun Canada.

Halak made 37 saves against Sweden.

Henrik Lundqvist, who helped the Swedes win gold at the 2006 Olympics, stopped 28 shots. He had a shot to prevent both of Tatar’s goals.

On the game-winner, Lundqvist got caught out of position after trying to play a puck behind the net.

Mats Zuccarello sent the puck from the left boards toward the net and Tatar stuffed it into the net from the right side.

As Lundqvist lay on the ice with his head down, the Europeans huddled up in the right corner and bounced on their skates to celebrate before shaking hands with the stunned Swedes.

On Tatar’s go-ahead goal 12 seconds into the third period, Lundqvist failed to handle the puck cleanly with his glove and it was costly.

Tatar scored off his own rebound after beating defenseman Anton Stralman to the loose puck to make it 2-1.

Stralman redeemed himself midway through the third period by preventing the puck from going crossing the goal line after Thomas Vanek’s shot on a breakaway trickled past Lundqvist.

Sweden’s Erik Karlsson made it 2-all with 4:32 left in regulation. Karlsson shot the puck from just inside the blue line on the right side of the rink and Swiss defenseman Roman Josi swiped at the puck with his stick and redirected it into his own net.

Both teams had the lead once before overtime and scored once to pull into a tie.

Sweden’s Nicklas Backstrom broke a scoreless tie early in the second with a goal that stood after coach Ralph Krueger challenged that Backstrom interfered with Halak.

Marian Gaborik tied the game at 1 late in the period.

Europe outshot the Swedes 15-9 in the second and they will probably lament not being more aggressive offensively when they had the lead for about 14 minutes of the period, missing out on an opportunity for a rematch of the 2014 Olympic finals against Canada.