After cruising to two opening victories where they outscored their opponents 10-1, Finland was shocked with a defensive shutdown at the hands of rival Sweden, who defeated the Finns 3-0 to close out the Olympic Preliminary Round in Vancouver, winning the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process.
Sweden came out firing on all cylinders in the opening frame, outshooting the Finns 16-5 and forcing the Leijonat to take costly penalties, two of which would lead to Sweden’s opening goal. Loui Eriksson, parked in front of Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff during a two-man advantage, knocking in his own rebound on a feed from Nicklas Bäckström for the 1-0 lead, the score at the end of the first period. Tre Kronor would strike again early in the second, with Bäckström wiring a laser-guided shot on a behind-the-net pass from Daniel Sedin, through traffic and past Kiprusoff for the early 2-0 advantage.
And while Finland outshot the Swedes 10-8 in the second, and had the advantage of five consecutive Swedish penalties (including a span of 2:22 with a two-man advnatage), the Finns were unable to solve Sweden’s red-hot netminder, “King” Henrik Lundqvist, putting Sweden in the position to strike back on their first power play of the period, with Eriksson netting his second on a trickling puck that he deflected off Kiprusoff’s skate up close and in for the 3-0 lead. Finland, while they managed to stay penalty-free in the third, were held to just five shots, and unable to beat a solid Lundqvist, were handed the shutout loss, a deflating blow to the Leijonat in advance of the medal round.
With the win, Sweden, who were last IHLC champions at November’s Karjala Tournament, captures the International Hockey Lineal Championship, its 67th title, from their perennial rivals Finland, who entered the Olympics with the IHLC and retained against Belarus and Germany before the loss. This was the 64th ever meeting between Tre Kronor and the Leijonat over the IHLC, and the first since a 4-3 shootout win for Finland at December’s Channel One Cup, Finland’s last win before the Olympics. Sweden, who as Group C winners receives a bye into the Quarterfinals, faces the winner of the Slovakia/Norway Qualification Playoff, with a Semifinals date and the IHLC up for grabs.
00:31 – PEN – H. Sedin, tripping
04:58 – PEN – Timonen, interference
06:07 – PEN – Pitkänen, tripping
06:41 – PP2 GOAL – Eriksson (Bäckström, Johansson)
16:23 – PEN – S. Koivu, hooking
19:01 – PEN – Hörnqvist, tripping
24:19 – GOAL – Bäckström (D. Sedin)
25:37 – PEN – Forsberg, holding
31:14 – PEN – Lidström, tripping
32:42 – PEN – Franzén, tripping
33:36 – PEN – Öhlund, interference
36:25 – PEN – Lepistö, tripping
38:08 – PP GOAL – Eriksson (Franzen, Bäckström)
39:11 – PEN – Pitkänen, checking to the head game misconduct
53:26 – PEN – Tallinder, cross checking
W: Lundqvist (20-20)
L: Kiprusoff (29-32)
SHOTS ON GOAL
16+8+8 = 32
5+10+5 = 20
Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson, Henrik Lundqvist. Defence: Tobias Enström, Magnus Johansson, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidström (C), Douglas Murray, Johnny Oduya, Henrik Tallinder, Mattias Öhlund. Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson (A), Nicklas Bäckström, Loui Eriksson, Peter Forsberg, Johan Franzén, Patric Hörnqvist, Fredrik Modin, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mattias Weinhandl, Henrik Zetterberg (A).
Goaltenders: Niklas Bäckström, Miikka Kiprusoff. Defence: Lasse Kukkonen, Sami Lepistö, Toni Lydman, Janne Niskala, Joni Pitkänen, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen (A). Forwards: Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Hagman, Jarkko Immonen, Olli Jokinen, Niko Kapanen, Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu (C), Jere Lehtinen, Antti Miettinen, Ville Peltonen, Jarkko Ruutu, Tuomo Ruutu, Teemu Selänne (A).