Friday, May 13, 2011
Sweden, Finland advance to final
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Sweden and Finland advanced to the finals of the ice hockey world championship Friday.
The Swedes got two goals from St. Louis Blues forward Patrik Berglund in a 5-2 victory over the defending champion Czech Republic.
Then Finland blanked Russia 3-0 to set up a Scandinavian showdown for the trophy.
"We have to play our game and make sure we're ready to go mentally and physically," Finland captain Mikko Koivu said of facing the Swedes. "It's a huge challenge for us."
Russia will play the Czechs for the bronze Sunday in a replay of last year's final.
Finland's Mikael Granlund lifted the puck on his stick behind the goal and carried it around the net to surprise goalie Konstantin Barulin and the spectators in Bratislava's Orange Arena 5:13 into the second period.
"Sometimes I practiced that when I was young," the 19-year-old Granlund said. "When I was young and I played in juniors, I tried it a couple of times and it went in, and now I tried it again and it went in. It's nice."
Jani Lajunen stretched the lead to 2-0 in the third period, and Jarkko Immonen later put the result beyond doubt on a power play.
That sent the Finns into a title matchup with the Swedes.
"They're probably our biggest rivals historically, " Swedish captain Rickard Wallin said.
Finland goalie Petri Vehanen stopped 30 shots for the shutout.
"We had several good chances when we were 1-0 down, but the puck didn't go into the net," Russia coach Vyacheslav Bykov said. "The Finnish team was better."
Sweden will be seeking its first title since 2006; it finished third last year.
Sweden came back from a one-goal deficit behind two second-period goals from Berglund to avenge a semifinal loss to the Czechs in a shootout at last year's worlds.
Berglund is the leading scorer of the tournament with eight goals.
After a scoreless first period, Milan Michalek set up the opening goal for Patrik Elias, who beat goalie Viktor Fasth 46 seconds into the second period. Berglund tied it with a slap shot on a power play.
Mikael Backlund put the Swedes ahead with a wrist shot from the right circle.
"When they scored the first goal quickly it seemed we could lose and we started to press forward," Wallin said. "We had over 20 shots in the second, that was maybe our best period in the tournament."
The Swedes outshot the Czechs 26-10 in that period and 48-37 overall.
"In the third we just battled hard as a team," Wallin said.
Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped a penalty shot by Loui Eriksson in the second period.
Jimmie Ericsson and Jakob Silfverberg both scored in the third before Elias reduced the lead with his second. Berglund added an empty-net goal to complete the victory.
"It was our game from the beginning," Sweden coach Par Marts said. "We had more scoring chances than the Czechs and we won in style."
It was the first loss for the Czechs at the tournament. Sweden lost to Norway and Canada before it reached the playoffs.
"The third period was decisive," said Elias, who has six goals in the tournament. "We went all on attack and failed in defense. They have a young team and if you give them seven, eight chances, you have to pay for that."