Mikael Backlund goes to Worlds: Sweden vs. Kazakhstan

Sweden was having a difficult time scoring goals. So when they faced Kazakhstan, they scored seven: and it was Mikael Backlund kicking everything off, as Sweden won with a decisive 7-3 victory.

Even though it was Backlund scoring the game’s first goal, that was all the offense he had on the night. He swept through Kazakh players in the offensive zone, found an open lane, and took a perfect shot – kind of similar to his overtime winner against the Anaheim Ducks, except not on a delayed penalty call, and he held the puck the entire time.

Sweden’s main scoring line was Gustav Nyquist’s, as he had a hat trick and assist for four points, while Alexander Wennberg had four points of his own to compliment him. Three Swedish players had two points apiece, while Backlund was one of five who had just one. His three shots on net were comparatively low, as well.

A possible reason for this? Backlund played just 18:49, while Nyquist and Wennberg – who were clearly feeling it against Team Kazakhstan – led the way in forward ice time. 

He was present to follow through on a couple of Swedish scoring chances: driving to the net on Nyquist’s second goal in case he needed to redirect it in, and present right behind Linus Omark when a turnover ultimately resulted in him getting a penalty shot (that he danced around too much on and failed to score).

Backlund took his second penalty of the tournament, an interference call, that led to Kazakhstan’s first goal in the dying second of the opening period. While he sat in the box, Sweden’s penalty kill was disorganized, allowing Dustin Boyd (!) to score, assisted by Nigel Dawes (!!).

He did, however, draw a couple of penalties himself: fighting for the puck and having his stick slashed out of his hands (all the while keeping position on it), and essentially winning a physical battle from behind the net.

Backlund no longer leads the Swedes in scoring: his four points have him tied for fourth in team scoring with Jimmie Ericsson, behind Nyquist and Wennberg (six each) and Omark (five). He is, however, second in goal scoring with three (Nyquist has five), and leads the way well ahead of the pack with 22 total shots on net.