International Ice Hockey Federation

Sweden succeeds in semis

Sweden succeeds in semis

Rask sick, Lehtonen plays as Finns fall

Published 21.02.2014 19:46 GMT+4 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Sweden succeeds in semis
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21: Finland's Kari Lehtonen #32 makes the save on Sweden's Marcus Johansson #90 while Jori Lehtera #21 defends during men's semifinal action at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Erik Karlsson scored the second-period winner as Sweden beat Finland 2-1 to advance to their second final in the last three Olympics.

Sweden will face the winner of the Canada-U.S. semi-final for gold on Sunday (16:00), while Finland will play the loser for bronze on Saturday (19:00).

Loui Eriksson had the other Swedish goal. Olli Jokinen scored for Finland.

"It's a great feeling winning the semi-finals and knowing we're going to the finals," said Eriksson.

In this bitter Nordic rivalry, this is a familiar outcome. In 2006, Sweden beat Finland 3-2 in the Olympic final, with Nicklas Lidstrom’s winning goal coming 10 seconds into the third period.

"Our goal was to try to play our best game, and whatever happens, you can always live with that," said Finland's Teemu Selanne. "I felt we couldn’t do it. I don’t know if the Russia game [a 3-1 quarter-final win] took a little extra energy from us. I felt we were one step behind many times. It’s hard to swallow."

Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist now has a chance to join Martin Brodeur as the only active goalie with two Olympic gold medals. Lundqvist entered this game with two shutouts, tied with Switzerland’s Jonas Hiller for the Olympic lead.

"Hank has been one of our key players since the beginning of the tournament," Karlsson said of Lundqvist. "He's making the big saves when we really need them. It's a comfort for everyone in the defensive zone knowing he's behind us."

Sweden’s bid for its first gold medal since 2006 continues. The only other Swedish Olympic gold came in Lillehammer in 1994, where Peter Forsberg scored his iconic one-handed goal in the final shootout to defeat Canada.

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Finland’s much-touted goaltending depth was tested, as Kari Lehtonen got his second start of the tournament after number one man Tuukka Rask was sidelined with the flu. He played well, but couldn't save his team.

The Finns, who have two IIHF World Championship gold medals to their credit (1995, 2011), won’t get an opportunity to win their first Olympic gold.

"Our goal was to win the gold here and we came up short," said Jussi Jokinen. "Obviously there's still one more game for us tomorrow and we'd like to take a medal home."

Selanne, 43, is the all-time leading scorer in the modern era of the Olympic Games with 41 points. But he will end his distinguished international career without a championship from these Games.

"This is hockey," said Selanne. "There are highs and lows, and hopefully tomorrow is going to be a high again."

Coach Par Marts’s team has made the final despite missing NHL stars like Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin, and Johan Franzen. Sweden is the only team to have won all its games in regulation time at these Games.

On facing a tough North American opponent next, Marts said: "I think we should play our game. That's what this is all about. If we try to play like other teams we will lose. For sure we can play physical hockey, but we need good defence and good offence. We can't focus on just playing physical, but if they get physical with us we will be in the heat with them."

In this game, shots on goal were nearly even at 26-25 for Finland.

It was a tight, tactical affair. The Swedes dominated puck possession in the early going, and the Finns appeared to be making their classic mistake of giving Sweden too much space and respect.

But things evened out. Leo Komarov got a partial breakaway midway through the period and forced Lundqvist to make a tough glove save.

The Swedes showed poor discipline in the first, taking three minors. After Patrik Berglund shoved Sami Vatanen in the face and Niklas Kronwall interfered with Selanne off a subsequent faceoff, the Finns wound up with a 5-on-3 for 1:36. However, Finland was unable to capitalize. Lundqvist stoned Selanne with a sliding right pad save.

"That’s the point when you want to put a team away and get a two-goal lead," said Olli Jokinen. "We weren’t able to do that."

"It was a huge PK," said Swedish defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson. "We weathered the storm there. We played really well there and on that 3-on-5 they only had one really good chance. We shut them down pretty good there."

The physical tone picked up in the second period, with lots of tough work along the boards.

Olli Jokinen drew first blood for Finland at 6:17 when, hounded by Jimmie Ericsson, he raced into the Swedish end and grabbed a loose puck sent in by Vatanen. He fired a bad-angle shot that squeezed past Lundqvist’s pads while the goalie knelt at the right post. The play was video-reviewed and deemed good.

With 8:21 left in the second period, the Swedes tied it up on a nice passing play. Nicklas Backstrom picked up the puck behind the Finnish net and fed it out to Jonathan Ericsson, who found Eriksson unguarded next to the crease, and he fired it past a lunging Lehtonen’s glove.

Three minutes later, Olli Jokinen was sent off for tripping Alexander Steen in the Finnish zone. At 16:26, Karlsson beat Lehtonen with a rising centre point blast. The goalie got a piece of it, but not enough to stop it from picking the top corner on the stick side.

"It’s just the way it goes," said Lehtonen. "I’m not happy about allowing that second one."

Down the stretch in the third period, the teams traded chances. Even with Lehtonen pulled in the final minute for the extra attacker, Finland couldn't find the equalizer.

The defending World Champions from Sweden, who ended the infamous 27-year “home ice curse” at the World Championship by winning gold in Stockholm last year, are moving on for a shot at international hockey's biggest prize.

"Each guy has been given a role on the team, and we're doing our jobs 100 per cent," said Sweden's Daniel Sedin. "Guys on the power play, the PK, everyone has been doing their job. That's what good teams do."

Finland has gone surprisingly deep despite its lineup woes. The Finns entered this tournament without top centres Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula - both suffering from broken ankles - and lost Aleksander Barkov to a leg injury against Norway. National team legend Saku Koivu declined an invitation, opting to rest up in Anaheim.

The last time Finland beat Sweden at the Olympics was a 2-1 victory in the 1998 quarter-finals. Sweden shut out the Finns 3-0 in the preliminary round in Vancouver 2010.

With the result, Finland’s all-time Olympic record against Sweden fell to two wins, three ties, and seven losses.


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