Coming in as the heavy, heavy favorite, Sweden couldn’t stay perfect as they lost their only game of the tournament at the worst time: the gold medal game. While they did outplay Finland for a lot of the game, Juuse Saros was stellar in goal stopping 35 of 37 and Rasmus Ristolainen scored the “golden goal” in overtime to give Finland the gold medal over their bitter rivals.
Not even 30 seconds into the game, Esa Lindell fired a wrist shot by a screened Oscar Dansk and gave Finland a very early 1-0 lead. It was then Saku Maenalanen who had a breakaway, but his shot hit the outside of the post as the Finns came out flying early on. Although, the Swedes did fight back and put some pressure on Juuse Saros and the Finnish defense as they looked to tie the game. Finland would get a chance to add on to their when Robert Hagg got called for hooking and sent the Swedish rivals to the power play. But, the Swedes did a good job in limiting the Finnish chances on their way to killing the Hagg hooking penalty. A minute or so after the penalty ended, Andre Burakovsky has a fantastic shift in the Finnish end and then draws a penalty on Lindell for holding. Sweden came close a couple of times to beating Saros, but the Finn netminder held his ground and the tournament’s best penalty kill stopped the tournament’s most dangerous offense. They would have another great opportunity to even the score when Filip Forsberg has a gift of a pass given to him in the slot but he whiffed on the one-timer attempt and couldn’t test Saros. After the Swedes fought hard to get a goal, the Finns would get a second chance on the power play with about 2:36 left in the first period as Christian Djoos was called for tripping. Finland can’t get much going on the power play, managing just a single shot on goal and the Swedes kill their second penalty of the period. The opening period of the gold medal game came to a close 30 seconds or so later with Finland having a 1-0 lead. Sweden, however, did lead in shots on goal with a 12-11 slight advantage.
The Swedes do not mess around to begin the second period as they controlled the puck very well and hemmed the Finns in their own zone but couldn’t beat Saros and tie the game in the first few minutes. A scary play occurred a few minutes later when Sebastian Collberg was caught with an elbow to the face by Mikko Vainonen, but somehow there was no penalty called. The Swedes would get their power play soon after when Julius Honka got called for holding in what had to be a make-up call for missing the blatant head shot on Collberg. It worked out well for the Swedish team. Lucas Wallmark with an absolutely perfect shot from the left circle to beat a screened Saros far side and that made it 1-1. The tie wouldn’t last all that long. Teuvo Teravainen made a beautiful pass through the crease of Dansk and Saku Maenalanen made no mistake to put Finland back in front, 2-1. Sweden tried to respond, but despite all of the possession, their forwards at times couldn’t even get into the Finnish zone because of the defense. Then, when they did get into the offensive zone, they didn’t get many chances. They’d get a great chance to tie it for a second time, after Finland’s best defenseman – Rasmus Ristolainen – got sent to the penalty box for tripping. The Swedes can’t do much and end up not converting with Ristolainen in the box. The second period ended less than two minutes later as the Finns took a 2-1 lead in the final period of play. Sweden held the 14-7 shots on goal advantage in that period.
A little over four minutes into the third period, Saku Kinnunen was called for “tripping” despite not extending his leg and actually making a fine hip-check. Alas, the Swedes go to the power play with a chance to tie the game. The great Finnish penalty kill does their job again and prevent Sweden from tying the game. Sweden would get another chance a few minutes later on the power play when Aleksi Mustonen took a holding penalty. With 1:20 left in the power play, Sweden believed they had a five-on-three when Teuvo Teravainen put the puck out of play but it was determined the puck went right into the Finnish bench and not over the glass so Sweden remained on five-on-four power play. Just as the penalty expired, Rasmus Ristolainen gets called for holding the stick and the Swedes got yet another power play. Sweden would finally break through for that second goal on the man advantage. Christian Djoos gets the puck through a ton of bodies and beat Saros up high to tie the game up over halfway through the third. Oscar Dansk almost gifted Finland the go-ahead goal when he messed up playing the puck behind his net but managed to get back into his net and stop the Finns. Once again the Finns got away with a dangerous play when Andreas Johnson was cross-checked up high but there was no penalty called. With under two minutes to go, Sebastian Collberg had a chance in front of the net but missed it wide. Robin Norell made a great rush up the ice with under 30 seconds left, but his shot was stopped easily by Saros. Sweden would get a shot with about 3 seconds left on a face-off in the Finnish end, but nothing came of it and the gold medal game would go to a shootout. Finland had the edge in shots in overtime at 7-6.
Ville Pokka tried to end the game early in overtime off a one-timer but Dansk makes the good reaction save. Both sides get solid opportunities to score, but it is mainly the Swedes who control the puck. Andre Burakovsky nearly ended the game, but Saros just squeezed his pads together to stop the puck from getting through. Finland then gets a glorious chance to score when Rasmus Ristolainen jumps up and drives to the net and then the puck becomes loose when Dansk stopped him but Artturi Lehkonen just couldn’t get enough on it to beat Dansk. A few minutes later, Ristolainen would end it. He drove to the net once again but this time he put it behind Dansk and wins the gold medal for Finland by a score of 3-2.
1) Juuse Saros. If it wasn’t for Saros, this game wouldn’t have been close at all. After the first 10 minutes or so of the first period, which Finland dominated, Sweden controlled the game. They always had the pucks on their sticks and threw shot after shot at Saros, beating him twice on the power play. Saros has to be the MVP for Finland in this tournament, with all due respect to Teuvo Teravainen, Finland doesn’t get to this game without Saros.
2) Rasmus Ristolainen. Even if he didn’t score the gold medal winning goal, Ristolainen was great in this game. He shut down some of Sweden’s best players when he was on the ice and then created offense by jumping up into the play which is exactly what happened on the goal. Ristolainen was named the tournament’s best defenseman and that was definitely well deserved.
3) Lucas Wallmark. Wallmark had to be the best Swedish player out there today. With their stars Filip Forsberg and Elias Lindholm having a quiet game, Wallmark and his line stepped up big time. He scored the first goal for Sweden and then had an assist on the second one. At even strength, Wallmark was able to beat the Finnish defense and create opportunities to score.
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