Eleven nights ago, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Team USA embarrassed Sweden, 7-1, in the opening game of the Canada Cup hockey tournament.
Tonight, 3,000 miles away geographically and light years different in performance, the Swedes exacted their revenge. Building a 4-0 lead in the first 12 minutes, they chased goalie Tom Barrasso, humiliated Team USA, 9-2, and advanced to the tournament final.
Hakan Loob of Calgary scored three goals and Thomas Steen of Winnipeg added two for the Swedes, who were given up for dead by their own broadcasters and journalists following that massacre in Halifax.
Sunday, Sweden will open a best-of-three series against the winner of Thursday's contest in Calgary between Canada and the Soviet Union. Should the favored Soviets win, the final series figures to draw more crowds like the one tonight, with 5,230 tickets sold and about half that many actually used at 17,498-seat Northlands Coliseum.
Swedish Coach Leif Boork called tonight's shocking turnabout "one of the greatest victories in tournaments in Swedish hockey history."
The lone sour note for the winners was a pulled right hamstring suffered by Washington's Bengt Gustafsson when he tried to avoid a check by Buffalo's Mike Ramsey early in the second period. Although Boork said Gustafsson most likely was finished for the tournament, the oft-injured Capital said he would be back.
"I can't tell how bad it is right now, because it's just pain," Gustafsson said. "I'll put ice on it and see. I think I'll be able to play again. I saw Ramsey coming across and I put all my weight on one leg and tried to jump out of the way. I felt the muscle give as I jumped."
Team USA's problems began this morning when the bus scheduled to bring the players to a practice skate failed to appear. They never abated, as two Swedish goals 14 seconds apart in the first period enabled the winners to play a defensive game that feasted on the suddenly panicky Americans' mistakes.
"We were hurt by a bad bounce, then very suddenly they got a turnover and scored again, and everything went wrong," said U.S. Coach Bob Johnson, who also guides Loob with the Flames.
"When they're ahead and you're trying to play catchup hockey, you've got big problems."
Sweden jumped in front when a clearing pass around the right-wing boards by Barrasso struck a protruding panel just as defenseman Chris Chelios of Montreal was about to play the puck. Instead, it caromed at a right angle into the slot and Loob quickly turned and fired it over Barrasso's glove at 5:34.
Fourteen seconds later, Steen's shot from the right-wing circle beat Barrasso on the short side as Buffalo's young goalie failed to cover the post with his skate.
"Very small things make a big difference sometimes," Boork said. "As they were lucky in the game they won, we were lucky this time with the early goals."
Although Washington's Rod Langway was able to break up a three-on-one Swedish break shortly thereafter, a subsequent penalty for too many men on the ice emphasized Team USA's deterioration.
Philadelphia draftee Per-Erik Eklund put a short backhander through Barrasso's legs at 11:10 and, 38 seconds later, it became 4-0 when Loob converted a two-on-one with Steen.
Loob's shot passed Barrasso high on the stick side and the goalie hardly moved until the puck was in, then he skated quickly off the ice and stomped to the dressing room.
Johnson admitted Barrasso had pulled himself, but refused to discuss whether the knee injury incurred in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Soviets had been a factor in the goalie's poor play tonight.
"The knee was no problem -- we can't use any excuses," Johnson said.
"I'd rather not say anything," Barrasso said. "No matter what I say, I get jabbed anyway."
Barrasso was not solely at fault. When he departed after 11 minutes 48 seconds, Sweden had a 10-3 edge in shots. The score became 6-0 against Barrasso's replacement, Chico Resch of New Jersey, before Minnesota's Brian Lawton put Team USA on the board in the third period. Chicago rookie Ed Olczyk had the other U.S. score.
Some silly penalties helped the Swedes score three power-play goals, Team USA obviously becoming frustrated as it was unable to penetrate the four-man defensive wall Sweden erected.
"We played tonight the way they played in Halifax, staying back on defense and letting them make the mistakes," said Washington defenseman Peter Andersson, who was on the ice for Sweden's first six goals. "We maybe played too optimistic the first game and gave them a lot of freedom.
"Tonight we had four guys back almost the whole game. Scoring early gave us the chance to beat them at their game. There was no pressure, not like the first game, when everybody said we must win or we won't go to the final."