A team’s star power often determines how much buzz they will receive in the lead up to the Olympic tournament. For whatever reason, both Finland and Sweden were often overlooked during predictions, and the United States, Canada, and Russia received most of the media attention. Couple that with Sweden losing Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen to injuries, it does not come as much of a surprise that Sweden was often counted out by most.
Despite the crippling injuries, Sweden found a way and defeated an equally injury laden Finland, 2-1. The goal tenders were the deciding factor in this game. Finland’s Tuukka Rask, who to this point had been one of the best goaltenders in the Sochi tournament, was sidelined with the flu. Kari Lehtonen filled in with a valiant effort, but he was not able to measure up to his competition in the opposite crease, Henrik Lundqvist. You can take away Sweden’s firepower up front, but you still need to get through one of the best defense’s in the competition and then beat one of the best goaltenders in the world.
Finland struck first halfway through the second, on an Olli Jokinen goal that was initially waved off by referee Tim Peel (Peel believed he had blown the play dead) upon review, it was decided that the goal was scored before the whistle and it was a good goal. Louis Eriksson tied things back up for Sweden a mere two minutes later.
Sweden took a 2-1 lead on a power play goal from Erik Karlsson with two minutes remaining in the second. Sweden would not relinquish that lead in the third.
Today was an impressive win from Sweden and shows despite the odds stacked against them, they can contend on the back of solid goaltending. Even more remarkable was the ability to tie them game back up and get the lead, as Finland has been playing shutdown defense throughout the tournament. Their method of winning has been to get a one goal lead and then hold on for dear life for the rest of the game. Today, it was no match for the Swedish offense.
Sweden will now face off against the winner of this afternoon’s United States and Candad showdown in the Gold Medal game on Sunday.