It wasn’t quite the grudge match I was expecting but today’s gold medal game between Finland and Sweden was worth getting up at 8:00 AM on a Sunday morning for. Both teams played tight defensive games, especially in the first, which didn’t make it exceptionally exciting for long stretches but there were bursts of offense that came frequently enough.
The three Red Wing forwards played together for most of the game and were pretty effective. After the Finns took the 1-0 lead late in the first, the Swedes came back with a power play goal early in the second, scored by Henrik Zetterberg off a defenseman’s leg in the crease.
Less than 10 minutes later, Niklas Kronwall, again making good use of his short time in Torino, scored a nice power play goal himself from the high slot, giving his country a 2-1 lead.
The Finns didn’t take long to respond and soon it was tied again, 2-2. It stayed that way for the rest of the second period, which ended with both teams skating four aside. The third period began with Mats Sundin winning the faceoff at center and breaking Saku Koivu’s (I believe) stick in the process. This meant the Finns were down a player on the ensuing rush and it gave Nick Lidstrom a clear shooting lane to work with. He took full advantage and put the Swedes ahead permanently just 10 seconds into the period.
The Finns put up a strong effort to tie the game up toward the end but Henrik Lundqvist was strong and so was his defense. Sweden got its second gold medal in Olympic competition and five of our Wings will be returning to Detroit with that weird doughnut medal they hand out in Torino.
Or will they? Apparently, Nik Kronwall feels obligated to offer his gold medal to Mattias Ohlund, who’s rib injury caused Kronwall to be injected into the lineup, if the latter doesn’t get a medal:
“I think he deserved it more than I have. I came in and played two games. If we don’t end up getting another medal, I’m offering a medal.”
Yeah, Nik, you came in and played two games. You also played well and contributed in a very real way to your team’s victory. You earned it.
Congratulations, Nick, Tomas, Henrik, Mikael, and Nik! Get some rest, guys, and let’s repeat 2002 (and 1998), okay?