AIK completed a four-game sweep of defending champions HV 71 while Luleå and Skellefteå also advanced to the semis.
There will be a new champion in the Elitserien. AIK made sure of that.
The team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs until the final day of the season made short work of the defending champions, completing a four-game sweep of HV 71 with a 4-1 win March 15 at the Hovet in Stockholm. AIK goalie Victor Fasth was the hero once more, steering aside 36 shots including 14 in the third period.
Fasth is 6-0 in AIK’s last six games, including a pair of wins in the final games of the regular season with a 1.80 goals against average. Christian Sandberg, Daniel Band and Daniel Rudslätt all scored in the third period to break open a 1-1 tie.
Per Ledin gave HV 71 a lead when he scored at 8:41 of the second period. AIK tied the game at 18:48 when Johannes Salmonsson tallied.
The Blue Bulls were the regular season points champions but AIK seemed unable to figure out how to beat Fasth. The AIK goaltender allowed just four goals in the four-game sweep.
AIK will face No. 2 seed Färjestad in the semifinals.
Skellefteå, the No. 3 seed, advanced to the semis after knocking off Linkoping 3-2 in Game 7 of their series March 21 at the Skellefteå Kraft Arena. Oscar Lindberg scored in the second period to give SAIK a 3-2 lead and goalie Andreas Hadelöv made the lead stand up.
Skellefteå grabbed a 2-1 first-period lead on goals by Johan Forsberg and Joakim Lindström. Linköping rallied to tie the game on goals from Nicholas Havelid and Erik Andersson. Linköping forced the Game 7 showdown with a 4-2 win March 18.
Skellefteå will face Luleå, which needed seven games to knock off Djurgården. Lulea finally put down Djurgården March 20 with a 4-3 overtime win at the Coop Arena.
Robin Jonsson scored at 13:45 of the extra session off passes from Chris Abbott and Simon Hjalmarsson to send Luleå into the semis. Abbott had three assists in the game while Hjalmarsson had a goal and an assist. Jonas Vihko added a pair of goals for Luleå.
The deciding game was a back-and-forth affair as the teams traded goals in each period. Djurgården took a 3-2 lead at 14:11 of the third period on a goal by Mila Zbanejad. Hjalmarsson tied the game at 18:05 of the third.
DIF forced a Game 7 with a 2-0 win in Game 6 at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm.
The semifinals begin March 22.
by Chipp Reid