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Finland, Sweden seek gold-medal berth

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 10:15 AM ET / Preview
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Finland, Sweden seek gold-medal berth

FINLAND vs. SWEDEN

WHEN: Friday, 7 a.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN)

WHERE: Bolshoy Ice Dome, Sochi, Russia

Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson leads all Swedish forwards with two goals and four points through the first four goals of the Olympic tournament. (Photo by Getty Images)

WHAT'S AT STAKE: The Scandinavian neighbors face off for a spot in the gold-medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Finland got to this point by beating host Russia 3-1 in the quarterfinals Wednesday after finishing Group B play with a 2-0-1 record. Sweden is unbeaten, with goalie Henrik Lundqvist earning two shutout victories. The Swedes advanced to the semifinals with a 5-0 win against Slovenia on Wednesday.

The Finns and Swedes last played in the Olympics in the preliminary round at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, with Sweden winning 3-0. Sweden defeated Finland 3-2 in the gold-medal game at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Finland: After winning bronze at the Vancouver Games, Teemu Selanne and the Finns have their sights set on their country's first gold medal in Olympic men's hockey and perhaps a chance for revenge against the United States, which routed Finland 6-1 in the semifinals four years ago.

But first things first: Finland must beat rival Sweden and the U.S. must top Canada before that rematch could happen.

Finland is confident despite its role as underdog among the four remaining teams, according to Selanne.

"When we came here, nobody believed in us and it doesn't matter," the Anaheim Ducks' 43-year-old right wing, playing in his sixth Olympics, said after the game against Russia. "Our team believes, and I always say the gap is not very big with these top teams. It is a good feeling."

Tuukka Rask likely will be in goal for Finland. The Boston Bruins goalie has started three of four games; he stopped 37 of 38 shots he faced against Russia.

The Finns have outscored their opponents 18-8. Their loss came against Canada, 2-1 in overtime Sunday in what amounted to the Group B championship game.

Finland is without 18-year-old center Aleksander Barkov, who was injured in the preliminary round against Norway.

SWEDEN: The Swedes have outscored their Sochi opponents 15-5, but the games have been closer than the final scores would indicate. Sweden pulled away from Slovenia with four goals in the third period Wednesday after going to the second intermission clinging to a 1-0 lead.

Who scored in the third is more important than how many they scored. Daniel Sedin scored his first goal in 2014 in the quarterfinal win; he had not scored since Dec. 30, when the Philadelphia Flyers beat his Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in an NHL shootout.

"I lost count," Sedin said about his goal-scoring drought, which spanned 22 games in the NHL and at the Olympics, according to the Detroit Free Press. "It was a good feeling. It's my job to score. It's nice to get it over."

Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers scored his first two goals of the tournament in the third period.

Lundqvist stopped 19 shots against Slovenia to raise his save percentage to .948.

Sweden is without captain Henrik Zetterberg, who sustained a herniated disk in the preliminary round against the Czech Republic.

Sweden is aiming for its second gold medal in the five Olympics that have included NHL players; it won gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

WHAT'S NEXT: The winner will advance to the gold-medal game scheduled for 7 a.m. EST Sunday. The loser will play for bronze Saturday at 10 a.m. EST.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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