STOCKHOLM — Going to Sweden for the NHL Global Series was going to be special for Anton Forsberg regardless of the outcome, but being named player of the game after making 24 saves in a 2-1 shootout win Saturday over the Minnesota Wild made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Forsberg stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout, thwarted Marcus Johansson on a penalty shot and even chipped in offensively with an assist.
“This is not something I imagined would happen,” said Forsberg. “The way it went I would say it couldn’t have had a better ending.”
Forsberg became the first Swedish goalie to win an NHL game in his native country.
“There was some pressure on me there,” said Forsberg with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun out there and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Forsberg’s hometown of Harnosand, Sweden, is just over four hours from Stockholm and he was thrilled to have the opportunity to play an NHL game in front of family and friends.
Josh Norris scored the shootout winner to allow the Senators to leave Stockholm with a perfect 2-0 record after beating Detroit 5-4 in overtime on Thursday. The Senators (8-7-0) return to Ottawa on a three-game winning streak.
“That’s the way we have to play to give ourselves a chance every night,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “Away from the puck, I thought our d-zone was as good as it’s been, our neutral zone we broke the puck out. We did a lot of really good things.”
Smith felt the team looked more connected and organized than it has in recent weeks and hopes they can ride the momentum back home.
Before leaving Canada, Smith said he hoped the Senators would return a different team. He spoke of being able to shut out the noise while being in Sweden and is hopeful his players will have learned from the experience.
"When we get home turn off the noise, turn off the outside noise, stay together, stay as tight as we’ve been here and then when you have lows there not as low,” Smith said.
It was a solid outing for Ottawa’s Swedish contingency with Erik Brannstrom, a native of Eksjo, Sweden, scoring the lone regulation goal for the Senators.
Minnesota netminder Filip Gustavsson, a native of Skelleftea, Sweden, was equally impressive in his 30-save performance with a large cheering squad on hand. Marco Rossi scored the lone goal for the Wild.
“It’s very special,” said Gustavsson. “A lot of bad sleep the other night and then just wanting to do so good in front of them. It puts a lot of extra pressure on yourself and I think I did a pretty good job out there.”
Minnesota was looking to bounce back from an ugly 8-3 loss to Dallas last Sunday and saw some improvements. The Wild have now lost their last four games (0-3-1) and eight of its last 10 (2-6-2).
“For the most part, we liked our game,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “But there’s certain areas, as you just said, that certain situations that our puck management could be better, but we competed for the most part, most of the guys, so we’re happy with that.”
The game got off to a bit of a slow start with a scoreless first period, despite a couple of power-play chances by both teams.
The Wild were awarded a penalty shot on the second frame after Brannstrom was called for closing his hand on the puck in the crease. Johansson took the shot, but was denied by Forsberg.
A few minutes later the Wild took the lead when Rossi tipped Brock Faber’s point shot. Mats Zuccarello picked up his 400th career assist on the goal.
The Senators pressed for the equalizer, but it wasn’t until the third minute of the third that they found the scoresheet.
Brannstrom beat Gustavsson with a slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle after getting a stretch pass from Forsberg.
It was Brannstrom's first goal in 20 games.
“It’s a set play by him, by us, it’s a good pass by (Forsberg),” said Brannstrom laughing. “It was nice to see it go in.”
Both goaltenders locked things down the rest of the way. The Senators and the Wild each had chances in the overtime period, but needed the shootout to resolve things.
The Senators are 5-0-1 at the Avicii Arena in Stockholm.
NOTE: Ottawa D Jakob Chychrun played his 400th NHL game and Erik Brannstrom played his 200th. … G Joonas Korpisalo is dealing with a minor injury so G Mads Sogaard served as Forsberg’s backup. Minnesota F Frederick Gaudreau (upper-body) did not play and D Alex Goligoski has been placed on long-term injured reserve.
UP NEXT: The Senators will host the New York Islanders Friday night in its first game back from Sweden. Minnesota plays Toronto on Sunday to wrap up the Global Series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2023
The Canadian Press