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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

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80