COPENHAGEN — Canada will not play for a gold medal at the world hockey championship for the first time in four years.
Bo Horvat and Colton Parayko were Canada’s scorers in a 3-2 loss to Switzerland on Saturday in the semifinal of the men’s international tournament. Struggling special teams were Canada’s undoing. The Swiss took just one penalty, in the third period, then killed it off successfully.
“It would have been nice to get a power play earlier in the game,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a mainstay on Canada’s first unit throughout the tournament. “We were working for them and — you can’t say whether there were calls that were missed or not.”
Canada’s power-play unit was potent on Thursday, scoring three times in its 5-4 quarter-final win over Russia.
“Our power play was going the other day and tonight when we had the chance, we put a lot on net, we had a lot of chances,” Nugent-Hopkins added. “That usually turns the game. They capitalized on the power play and we didn’t get those opportunities.”
Switzerland went 2 for 3 on the power play on Saturday against a top-ranked Canadian team that had successfully killed 24-of-26 penalties headed into the semifinal.
Darcy Kuemper made 14 saves for the Canadians, who will face the United States on Sunday in the bronze-medal game.
Gaetan Haas’s third-period power-play goal was the eventual winner for the Swiss, while Tristan Scherwey and Gregory Hofmann also scored. Leonardo Genoni stopped 43 shots in net for Switzerland.
“They were solid defensively,” said Canada’s captain Connor McDavid. “They did a good job of kind of packing it in and making it hard for us to come to the middle. It was hard to get chances.”
Hofmann scored while Joel Edmundson was serving a second-period hooking penalty, tipping a pass from Kevin Fiala behind Kuemper’s pads at 9:40 of the second period. Haas added his goal at the 4:14 mark of the third, 1:03 after Nugent-Hopkins was whistled for hooking.
The only puck to find the net in the first period came off Scherwey’s stick after he turned on the jets down the left wing and beat Kuemper high to the glove side with 1:19 left in the opening frame.
Horvat’s goal was almost a carbon copy, finishing off a nice passing sequence with his linemates Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Pierre-Luc Dubois 9:40 into a second period where Canada outshot the Swiss 18-11.
After delivering a win in relief against Canada in preliminary-round play at the 2017 world championship in Paris, 30-year-old Genoni, who plays with SC Bern of the Swiss National League, was rock solid once again.
He had 17 saves in the third period and got some crucial help from star Swiss defenceman Roman Josi on his team’s lone penalty kill.
“He was real good,” said McDavid of Josi. “He’s one of the best defencemen in the world and he was good on that kill.”
Parayko finally beat Genoni to get Canada within a goal with Kuemper pulled for the extra attacker with 2:07 left in the third period. McDavid earned the assist for his 17th point, bringing him three shy of tying a Canadian record for the most points in a single tournament.
Canada was without the services of Jaden Schwartz after he suffered an upper-body injury in the third period against Russia. Tyson Jost moved up the lineup and Anthony Beauvillier drew back in.
Sunday will mark Canada’s fourth straight opportunity to play for a medal at the world championship, though this time the team will be playing for bronze.
“It’s important,” said McDavid. “You always want to win your last game as a team and we have an opportunity to do that tomorrow.”
The Canadians settled for silver in Cologne, Germany in 2017 after a 2-1 shootout loss to Sweden, one year after Connor McDavid scored the gold medal-winning goal on a Bill Peters-coached team against Finland in Moscow. In 2015, Sidney Crosby served as captain when Canada won gold in Prague.
In the early semifinal, Anders Nilsson of the Vancouver Canucks earned the shutout as Sweden beat the United States 6-0.