Sweden wins bronze medal
BERN, Switzerland -- The United States failed to hold an early lead and lost to Sweden 4-2 in the bronze-medal game at the hockey world championship Sunday.
Sweden scored all four goals on power plays, with Loui Eriksson and Tony Martensson tallying in the second period and Carl Gunnarsson adding a third with 11 minutes left. Johnny Oduya scored into an empty net in the final seconds.
"I'm very proud of this young team. They played their hearts out and probably deserved a better fate over the last two games," said U.S. coach Ron Wilson, whose side gave up a late power-play goal in a 3-2 semifinals loss against Russia.
Sweden won its first medal since taking gold in 2006. It lost the bronze-medal match the past two years.
"It's a relief for Sweden to get that medal. We finished strong and that's a pretty good job from us," Eriksson said.
The United States, which has not won a medal at the world championships since 2004, took the lead at 5:14 of the second period after a holding call on Mattias Weinhandl.
Johnson scored from near the blue line that beat Liv on his stick side despite the goalie having a clear sight of the puck. It was the Los Angeles Kings defenseman's fifth goal.
Sweden responded at 13:24, when Eriksson fell to his knees while pushing his shot past Esche on Martensson's pass from behind the goal line.
The Americans then lost focus and took two quick penalties to give Sweden a 5-on-3 advantage.
Within 12 seconds of the power play, Eriksson and Martensson gave the Swedes their first lead at 15:57.
The United States ended the period with a power play, but was denied by Nicklas Grossman's skate block on the goal line.
Pavelski tied it at 2:15 of the third, bringing the puck out of his zone and slaloming through the Swedish defense to score on a wrist shot from the left circle.
Gunnarsson slapped a rising shot past Esche with 11 minutes to go from about the same spot Johnson scored his goal.
Wilson said the tournament was a learning experience about European hockey for himself and the U.S. team nine months before the Olympics tournament in Vancouver.
"My focus is entirely on the Olympics Games. I have a couple of young assistants who are capable," Wilson said. "With NHL referees at the Olympic Games it's exactly what the best players in the league need."
The U.S. team has won only three bronzes -- in 1962, 1996, also when coached by Wilson, and 2004 -- since it last won the title in 1960. That victory came at the Squaw Valley Olympics tournament which also counted as the world championship.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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