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Lehner revels in big win ; Swedish goalie never had beaten Canadians

How happy was Robin Lehner about beating Canada? When Anton Lander's game-winning shootout goal was safely tucked into the net, Sweden's victorious goaltender rolled over the bench door at HSBC Arena, landed on the ice and flopped around on his back like he wanted to do snow angels.

"I've never beaten Canada before in any event," a beaming Lehner said Friday after the Swedes' incredible, 6-5 victory toppled the tournament's Canada-USA gold medal scenario. "Even though this wasn't to win the tournament, it's incredibly big for so many of the guys.

"Not many players have beaten Canada, which is a fantastic team. It means so much for our country to beat them."

Seeing the 19-year-old Lehner celebrate a win seemed a far-fetched idea after his disastrous first period.

He whiffed with the glove on Quinton Howden's goal at 15:38 that allowed Canada to pull into a 2-2 tie just 43 seconds after the Swedes had taken the lead, and was burned by a deflection off the glass that created Curtis Hamilton's fluke goal with five-tenths of a second left.

"I gave up a brutal goal for the second goal and the third goal won't happen again if they tried it a million times," Lehner said.

The Swedes didn't get flustered. They opened the second period with great pressure, got the tying goal after 52 seconds and the go-ahead tally at 2:44.

"That was the biggest thing for our team in the game," Lehner said. "I didn't get frustrated and our team didn't. I went into the locker room and said we just had to think. We had the game. It was just the scoreboard that was the difference there."

Lehner made two saves in overtime, one on a hard wrist shot by Brayden Schenn, and then stoned Ryan Ellis and Schenn in the shootout. Ellis had the goalie beat on a deke but slid the puck underneath him instead of into the open half of the net.

"I just tried to challenge them a lot," Lehner said. "Ellis had me beat but I was still aggressive."

Lehner was the Ottawa Senators' No. 2 pick in 2009 and played last year for Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League before signing with the Senators and playing two games for Binghamton.

He got his first NHL call-up this year, stopping all 10 shots as he played twice in relief in October at Pittsburgh and Montreal and became the youngest Swedish netminder in NHL history. He's been only the backup at Binghamton, posting pedestrian numbers (3-5-1, 2.69, .913), so Ottawa allowed him to play in the junior tournament.

"I'm very happy they gave me the chance because this is my country and I wanted to be here for them," Lehner said. "This is a great experience, an incredible feeling."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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