Canada returns from the Olympics without a medal in men’s hockey for the first time in 16 years.
Lucas Wallmark scored midway through the third period as Sweden beat Canada 2-0 in the quarterfinals at the Beijing Games on Wednesday.
Lars Johanssen made 22 saves for the Swedes, who will face the Russian Olympic Committee on Friday in the semi-finals. Anton Lander added the clincher in an empty net.
Matt Tomkins made 24 saves for Canada.
The Wallmark winner came off a sloppy streak for the Canadians where Andrew McBain and Eric O’Dell couldn’t get the puck out of the defensive zone. Wallmark stripped the latter and shot Tyler Wotherspoon’s stick and passed Tomkins with 9:45 left in regulation.
WATCH | Full replay of the event, Canada vs Sweden:
Canada tried to press, but Lander ended the game with Tomkins on the bench for an extra forward with less than two minutes to go.
The goal tied Wallmark with Slovak Juraj Slavkovsky for the tournament lead with five.
Thursday marked the countries’ first meeting at the Olympics since the 2014 gold medal final in Sochi when Canada beat Sweden 3-0.
NHL players did not participate due to COVID concerns
It was also the last time NHL players hit the ice at the Games.
The league skipped the 2018 event for financial reasons before pulling out of 2022 due to COVID-19 concerns that forced dozens of postponements and hurt its December schedule.
Sweden advanced to the quarter-finals in Beijing as the No. 4 seed, while Canada had to play an extra match — a 7-2 win over China — in the qualifying round of Tuesday after finishing fifth out of 12 teams in the round robin.
Canada won Olympic gold with its NHL players in 2010 and 2014 before securing bronze four years ago with a roster of professionals mostly based in Europe. The country’s NHL players lost in the quarterfinals to Russia in 2006 after reaching the podium in 2002 for the first time in 50 years.
Despite winning three of its four games heading into Wednesday night at the National Indoor Stadium – including two victories against a Chinese program making its Olympic debut as hosts – Canada never really got off to a good start in Beijing.
Mason McTavish, the Anaheim Ducks’ third overall pick in the 2021 draft, got just one assist despite playing on the first line with Eric Staal, who is looking for a contract in the NHL, but like his team, failed to impress for much of the tournament.
Josh Ho-Sang – considered another offensive threat before the tournament – started alongside Staal and McTavish, but was demoted to 13th after two games.
Owen Power, the 2021 first pick by the Buffalo Sabers, struggled early on but grew in the tournament as the games progressed on the best pair of defense.
The Canadians lost to the United States in the round robin, which forced them to advance to the qualifying round against China. Canada got the job done but was unconvincing, especially early on, before having to face the rested Swedes just 24 hours later.
While the Swedes will face the ROC in one semi-final, Slovakia, who stunned the United States with a 3-2 shootout victory in the quarter-finals, will face Finland in the other semi-final.
WATCH | Highlights: ROC dominates Denmark to reach men’s hockey semi-finals:
The goals came in the 3rd period
And while Tomkins and Edward Pasquale were mostly solid in goal, the fact that Devon Levi – the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship MVP with big numbers in the NCAA – didn’t see a minute action has raised eyebrows in China and at home. .
“An incredible experience, an incredible honor to be here at the Olympics and to have the chance to wear the maple leaf and represent the country. It’s something I will remember all my life,” Tomkins said after the loss.
Tomkins, a 27-year-old from Edmonton in his first season with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, had to make a good save after Canada blocked the puck seven seconds into the first period.
The North Americans struck on the smallest ice the size of the NHL, but the Swedes didn’t back down by offering their fair share in return.
WATCH | Highlights: Finland overtakes Switzerland to advance to semi-finals:
Canada killed a penalty for an overzealous hit from McBain, while the Swedes did the same later in the period against a power play that connected four times against China on Tuesday.
The crushing chess match continued into the second before Sweden had a few chances where Tomkins again needed to be sharpened.
The Canadian goaltender stopped Pontus Holmberg on the doorstep before also denying Lander, who played 215 games with the Edmonton Oilers, with his blocker.
Johansson didn’t have much to do for 40 minutes at the other end, but had to rush a shot from the point which hit his blocker and was briefly lost behind the Swedish keeper before smothering the washer.
Landon Ferraro skated on the third line for Canada in his first action of the tournament after Ben Street took a clumsy jab from China captain Brendan Yip late in the qualifying round game.
The gold medal game is scheduled for 11:10 p.m. ET Saturday at the National Indoor Stadium.
You can watch all tournament games live or on demand on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app or on CBC Gem.