Jonathan Bernier engaged in his first duel with Erik Ersberg since the most recent Kings training camp. Monday’s duel was far more entertaining.
Bernier made 23 saves in Canada’s 3-2 win over Sweden in Kosice, Slovakia on Monday. Erbserg battled well in a game in which Sweden was outshot 43-25, making 40 saves. The teams were tied 2-2 when Rick Nash deflected a Brent Burns shot past Ersberg with Canada on the power play at 12:31 of the third period.
Both teams get to keep playing, and could meet again in the finals. Canada will play Russia in the single-elimination quarterfinals on Thursday. Sweden plays Germany on Wednesday.
Earlier Monday, Jack Johnson and Team USA lost a relatively inconsequential 5-3 game to Swizterland. Johnson played a scoreless 23:49 (leading the U.S. in time on ice) and finished a minus-3.
The U.S. plays the Czech Republic on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The winner of that game meets the winner of Germany-Sweden in the semifinals.
Team USA beat Austria 5-1 on Saturday at the IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, and Jack Johnson pitched in with an assist in a team-leading 23:27 time on ice.
According to a report in USA Today, Johnson arrived at the tournament last night.
“I can’t say enough about (Johnson),” Team USA head coach Scott Gordon told the newspaper. “The call goes out to him, and it wasn’t, ‘I got to see if I’m healthy or check with my agent.’ It was, ‘When does the flight leave?’ … I was excited when they told me he was coming over because he gives it everything he has.”
The U.S. plays Norway on Monday.
A couple other notes from the tournament:
Anze Kopitar’s father, Matjaz, is the head coach of the Slovenian national team that lost to Slovakia, 3-1 on Friday night.
Former Kings goalie Erik Ersberg was in the losing net in Norway’s 5-4 shootout win over Sweden today. According to IIHF.com, it was Norway’s first win ever in international championship competition over Sweden, a history that extends back 61 years.
Update: The Kings announced that forward Michal Handzus has been added to the roster for Team Slovakia. He joins Johnson and Jonathan Bernier (Canada) as the only Kings players in the tournament.
I chatted today with goalie Erik Ersberg, who missed the first two days of training camp with flu symptoms. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice to say, Ersberg is feeling better and hopes to build upon his strong play at the end of last season. Here, Ersberg talks about his work this summer and gives his thoughts on the upcoming season…
This season: 14 games, 6-5 record, 2.48 goals-against average, .927 save percentage.
Positives: Surprisingly, Ersberg emerged as a bright light in an otherwise dark and grim goaltending situation. Before the season, the Kings believed Ersberg would need a full year of minor-leagues seasoning, but he had two shutouts in 13 starts. The rest of the goalies combined for one (LaBarbera) in 69 starts. For the most part, Ersberg looked sharp and composed and showed great rebound control.
Negatives: Ersberg’s play generated a lot of excitement, and that’s understandable, but it’s also wise to remember that he had a 2.92 goals-against average in Manchester and hasn’t yet dealt with the rigors of being a full-time NHL goalie. That’s not to say he wouldn’t thrive in that role, but what has he really proved at this point?
Looking ahead: It will be interesting to see what happens with Ersberg this summer. If things work out, Ersberg will at least be in the mix for a roster spot, with Jason LaBarbera and Jonathan Bernier likely serving as his primary competition.
Contract situation: Restricted free agent.
No truth to the rumor that Daniel Taylor left the game after the first period, flew to Reading and returned for the start of the third period. Here’s some quotes from tonight’s postgame…
(Re: Game recap) “It felt good to get a win back, especially against this team. They’ve gone 20 games without a loss so it’s good that we could break that streak. It was a fun game. The first goal was kind of my fault so I felt a little bad about that, but I guess it’s better to have that in the first minute than the last minute. You have to look at it like, ‘There’s 59 minutes to make up for it,’ so that’s how I looked at it.”
(Re: Game recap) “This is kind of a game we want to play to get ready for next season for the big games. I think we all contributed to this result, and we’re happy to get the win.”
(Re: finishing season on a high note) “I think right now we’re playing for the fans. They’ve supported us all season when we didn’t have a very good season. They’ve been so loyal to us, and we’ve got to pay them back with a strong last game. We’re playing against the Ducks too, so it should really be buzzing in the building.”
(Re: Game recap) “We got down pretty quick on the first shift, but we didn’t panic. We knew we had nothing to lose, and that we could play better. We stepped out the gate and outshot them in the first period which really got the crowd in the game. I think we kind of deserved this win. We had a lot of chances that we didn’t put in the back of the net at first, but luckily in the end the bounces went our way.”
(Re: game recap): “We were very deserving of the win tonight. They got the fortunate bounce when Joe Thornton caught our rookie goaltender trying to cheat a little bit and got the one-goal lead. A number of things happened at that point. Erik [Ersberg] really bared down and was great from that point on for the rest of the game. I thought our defense was very stingy tonight and as a team we really checked them into the ground and didn’t give them a lot of chances…. When you get the type of performance where all your players play well, it’s very gratifying to get the victory.”