SOCHI, Russia — In 2006, Henrik Lundqvist was a 23-year-old rookie for the Rangers who went to the Turin Games motivated to win a gold medal for the older players on the Swedish team that he grew up idolizing.
Eight years later, he is one of the team’s elder statesmen, and his teammates are playing as if bent on leading him to his second gold medal. On Friday, in a rematch of the gold medal game in Turin, Lundqvist made 25 saves and let Sweden's shot-blocking defense and opportunistic power play do the rest in a 2-1 victory over Finland at the Bolshoi Ice Dome.
Playing every minute of his team’s five games, Lundqvist has stopped 117 of 123 shots. He was tested in the first period when the Finns held a two-man advantage for a minute and a half. They got only two shots on net, one from the left circle by Teemu Selanne, the oldest player in the tournament at age 43, as the Swedish defense deflected or blocked several other attempts.
In the seventh minute of the second period, Finland got the game’s first goal on a sharp-angled shot by Olli Jokinen. It slid under Lundqvist’s pads, giving Jokinen gratification long delayed. In the gold medal game in 2006, Lundqvist made a stick save in the final minute on Jokinen’s game-tying attempt from the top of the crease.
The Finns were without Tuukka Rask, the Boston Bruins goaltender whose stalwart play in goal against Russia keyed their quarterfinal victory. He was scratched because of illness, but depth at goalie is one of Finland’s strengths. Kari Lehtonen, who plays for the Dallas Stars, started in Rask’s place.
Sweden tied the score five minutes after Jokinen’s score on a tick-tack-toe play that would have been hard for anyone to stop. Daniel Sedin gathered the puck behind the net and passed out to Jonathan Ericsson, who delivered the puck to Loui Eriksson, who knocked it in from the side of the net.
Sweden came into the game with the top-rated power play, having converted 6 of 17 attempts, and it took the lead with Jokinen in the penalty box for tripping. Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored on a shot from the point with 3 minutes 34 seconds left in the second. It ricocheted off Lehtonen’s right elbow and settled into the back of the net, giving the 23-year-old Karlsson his fourth goal and eighth point of the tournament.
Lehtonen finished with 23 saves. In the final 20 minutes, the Finns put eight shots on net to their opponents’ three as the Swedes went into the hockey version of a prevent defense. Selanne, a six-time Olympian who was hoping to add a gold medal to the bronze he won in 1998 and the silver in 2006, was on the ice when time expired. He bent over with his stick across his knees and absorbed the defeat.
“Of course, I’m disappointed,” he said.
The golden oldie set will be represented in the final by 41-year-old Daniel Alfredsson. Lundqvist turns 32 next month and acknowledged he felt older than his years. He struggled early this season for the Rangers, then settled down after agreeing to a contract extension. His improved play helped to vault the Rangers into playoff contention, and now he is lifting Sweden as well.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock Thursday, he allowed himself to exhale.
“Wow,” Lundqvist said. “What a feeling in that last 10 seconds. That’s the feeling you work for as an athlete. To know you’re going to get another chance at a gold medal is incredible.”
Henrik Lundqvist acted wall in the final stage .
But before Tre Kronor turnaround got star goalkeeper criticism.
Afterward, he acknowledges also his mistake at the Finnish -ahead goal in the middle period .
- I thought it would be icing and relaxed seconds , says goalkeeper star.
Finland dumped the puck deep into the Swedish zone .
And suddenly was the goal.
Olli Jokinen had found a minimal gap and coaxed into the puck behind Henrik Lundqvist , the Swedish star goalie who was criticized over the cheap backwards goal four minutes into the middle period.
Be avoided scapegoat
- Of course it is a painting, it is not a dangerous chance somewhere . From there , you can not score on Lundqvist. Of the 100 shots he takes it 99 times , said Sportbladets expert , Kristian Huselius .
Judgments The team did however not perceive that the puck ended up in the case and only after Finnish protests and long Video Preview approved target.
Tre Kronor turned around and won 2-1 and Henrik Lundqvist avoided becoming Swedish scapegoat.
"Where errors in the tank "
But he admits that it was a mistake behind the Finnish -ahead goal .
- Careless . I thought it would be icing and relaxed a second. But then I realized that it was not the icing and then I was a little wrong in the tank and position , then it's goals , saying " Henke " .
- It was frustrating. But the important thing is how we responded up after that. I'm happy and proud of it. I played my game and did not let that stop me . Even as teams , we raised us after that and scored two important goals , he continues.