Sunday’s matchup between the Swedes and Finns brought two perfect teams to a game that would ultimately decide little more than which order the two would finish in, considering they both ended up earning first round byes in the Olympic tournament. Still, any meeting of the two Scandinavian neighbors is always fun to watch. The Swedes got the best of the Finns in the gold medal game at Torino, and, while some of the names on the jerseys were different, the result was the same, as the Swedes got another stellar performance from Henrik Lundqvist, and shutout the Finns, 3-0.
The Swedes’ powerplay proved to be exceptionally lethal in this contest, and young Loui Eriksson notched both of his goals with the man advantage. His first goal, the game winner, came just 6:41 into the first, with Joni Pitkanen and Kimmo Timonen in the box for Finland. Eriksson corralled the rebound off Nicklas Backstrom’s shot from the corner, and tucked it around the sprawling Mikka Kiprusoff.
Backstrom scored one of his own less than five minutes into the 2nd, followed by another powerplay goal from Eriksson in the closing minutes of the frame, while the Finns were serving a five minute major handed out to Joni Pitkanen for his elbow to the head of Patrice Hornqvist. Pitkanen will serve a one game suspension before being allowed back into play.
Lundqvist wasn’t tested often, when he was called upon, he was more than up to the task, making all 20 saves for the Swedes. Despite giving up 3 goals, Kiprusoff still turned in a solid performance, making 29 saves on 32 shots. Unfortunately, the Finns’ penalties got them in trouble early and often throughout this one, and if they hope to advance further in the tourney, they’ll have to show more discipline than they did last night.
Sweden now holds the number 2 seed, and will face the winner of the Slovakia-Norway game. Finland, sitting in fourth, will draw the winner of the Czechs and Latvians. If Sunday’s contests were any indicator, hockey fans are in for a hell of a week of hockey.