Danish GK stars in win over Norway
After waiting 13 years for a World Championship victory over Norway, Denmark enjoyed its second triumph in 12 months against its Nordic neighbour thanks to a fine goaltending display from Sebastian Dahm.
The Graz 99ers goalie was in unbeatable form in Moscow as his team weathered a first-period storm before taking control of the game on two goals in the middle frame. Nicklas Jensen and Jesper B. Jensen found the Norwegian net as Denmark justified its pre-tournament talk of pushing for a play-off place. Dahm finished with 44 saves; Denmark won it 3-0 to follow up its status-preserving 4-1 success over the same opponent in Ostrava last season.
And after a winning start, Dahm sounded a warning to the rest of Group A. "This is going to be a dynamite group," he said. "Any team can make the quarter finals, and any team could get sucked into the relegation battle. This is a good start for us but we have to build on it. We can't treat it as a pillow and go to sleep."
There was a frantic start to the action when Jannick Hansen, one of three NHLers on the first line for Denmark, rattled Lars Haugen’s post in the first minute – but subsequently it was Dahm who had the busier first period. He pulled off 15 saves in that opening stanza, most impressive getting a blocker in the path of Andreas Martinsen’s close-range effort after Mathis Olimb’s diagonal pass sliced through the Danish defence.
Even when Dahm was beaten, Norway’s luck was out: captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen unleashed a mighty slapshot from the point only to see the puck slam into the bar and bounce to safety.
That saw Denmark through to the intermission on level terms and after going close in the first minute of the game, Jan Karlsson’s team got the perfect start to the middle session with a goal after just 66 seconds. Frederik Storm picked out Nicklas Jensen at the far post and the New York Rangers prospect took his time to force Haugen to commit himself before beating the Norwegian goalie on the stick side.
"It was a really good effort and if we play like we did today we have a really good chance," the double goalscorer said. "It was a team effort and our goalie did really well."
That goal shifted the momentum: after soaking up so much first-period pressure, Denmark was able to push Norway back. But Dahm still had to be alert and was almost beaten in a scramble around the crease after a Mathias Trettenes shot rebounded off the goalie’s pads and into the danger zone in the 32nd minute.
Within two minutes, though, Denmark was celebrating a second goal. Lars Eller found Jesper Jensen at the bottom of the circle and the Jokerit Helsinki D-man produced the kind of wicked wrist shot that would delight the most predatory of forwards to rattle the puck into the top corner.
"I don't know how I ended up in front of the net," Jensen said. "I'm a defenceman! I felt I had a lot of space and I got a great pass from Lars Eller. It was a nice goal and important for the team to take a 2-0 lead."
In control, but not yet assured of the win, Denmark ran into penalty trouble in the third as the pressure intensified around Dahm's net.
The shots continued to rain in, but the 29-year-old found the answers amid glove and pad saves - not to mention the occasional kindly bounce. One of those, as a shot hit the top of Dahm's stick and looped away from danger was a "defining moment" for Dahm. "I never saw that one and it would have been 2-1 with a few minutes to play," he added. "Instead at 2-0 we could play out the last few minutes calmly."
Indeed, once the Danes killed a double minor penalty on Eller midway through the third it was clear that there would be no way back for Norway even before Nicklas Jensen fired his second of the night into an empty net to wrap it up.
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