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World junior championship: Sweden goes to 5-0 with 6-0 shutout of Slovakia in quarter-final

Filip Forsberg had 4 points for Sweden vs. Slovakia (The Associated PRess)

The only upset on quarter-final Thursday? It took Sweden nearly a whole 12 minutes to score before it closed out Slovakia 6-0 to advance to the world junior championship.

Captain Filip Forsberg scored two goals and notched two assists to take over the tourney scoring lead in a walkover that attested to the hosts' talent as they and Canada might be on a collision course for the gold medal in Malmo. Forsberg, whom Sweden added late after he missed five weeks with the NHL's Nashville Predators after suffering a brain injury on Nov. 15, factored into three of the first four Sweden goals.

Sweden will face Russia in the semifinal on Saturday (TSN/RDS, 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT or 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT). Sweden won 3-2 in their round-robin meeting on New Year's Eve.

Nothing is guaranteed in a single-elimination tournament, but Sweden has looked formidable with a multifaceted menagerie of talented forwards such as Forsberg, loaned-out Carolina Hurricanes rookie Elias Lindholm, Montreal Canadiens prospects Sebastian Collberg and Jacob de la Rose and NHL first-rounders André Burakovsky (Washington Capitals) and Alexander Wennberg (Columbus BLue Jackets).

The rap on Sweden has been that its defence might be suspect. But its puck-possession time has been sufficient enough to prevent any opponent from wearing down its defence corps. Goaltender Oscar Dansk, who handled 18 shots for the shutout, has also had a strong tournament.

Undrafted 18-year-old Lucas Wallmark, who has six points in five tournament games, opened the scoring in the first period. Lindholm tallied later in the frame and Forsberg buried 1:10 into the second to open a 3-0 lead, allowing the crowd of 10,857 at the Malmo Arena to begin making plans for semifinal Saturday.

Sweden is attempting to pull off a unique double of winning both the world championship and world U20 championship on home ice within a 12-month span.

Recent world junior tourneys have not been kind to the hosts, with Russia (2013), Canada ('12) and the U.S. ('11) all settling for the bronze medal. Canada took silver in 2010.

Canada was the last host to win, prevailing in 2009 with a lineup that included John Tavares and P.K. Subban. It beat Sweden in the final.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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