OTTAWA--Certainly more nastiness in this gold medal clash than your garden variety Canada-Sweden game, wouldn't you say?
Both Swedish goalie Jacob Markstrom and defenceman Victor Hedman are being showered with boos, Markstrom for his Dominik Hasek-like theatrics and Hedman for coming to the rescue of Markstrom after a collision with Angelo Esposito and mugging the Canadian without being penalized.
The home ice advantage is surely playing a role, but the bad news for Team Canada is that for most of the second period it seemed to egg them on into taking a bunch of dumb penalties. Only a weirdly passive Swedish power play that seemed more inclined to rag the puck than score and some excellent work by Canadian goalie Dustin Tokarski kept the Swedes off the scoreboard.
Stefan Della Rovere, identified as a potential problem in the first period, seems unlikely to see any ice the rest of the way after taking yet another in a long series of stupid penalties, this one for obviously interfering with Markstrom as the Swedish goalie headed to the bench on a delayed penalty call to Canada.
Esposito, meanwhile, is clearly feeling it. He made it 2-0 at 4:06 of the second with another pretty solo effort, this time fighting his way past Swedish defenceman David Rundblad out of the corner before lifting a backhand over Markstrom's glove.
No Canadian, its fair to say, has elevated his reputation more in this tournament from where it was before the event started as much as Esposito.
The on-ice trash-talking visibly increased in that period, with the Swedes determined not to be bullied by the Canadians. While his teammates were taking five straight penalties, Tokarski made a series of excellent stops. Desperate to get something going, Swedish forward David Ullstrom resorted to slamming on the brakes in the Canadian crease and showering Tokarski with ice chips in the final minute of play.
Swedish forward Mikael Backlund, meanwhile, took his second dumb penalty of the game as time expired, an interference foul on Esposito far away from the play that will give Canada a power play going into the third.
Talk to you when it's all over.