Stealth Swedes soar again

"We played close attention to the Russian-Finland game," Daniel Alfredsson said. "I thought Finland played outstanding and got Russia to where they wanted. We have one big goal today, and that was not to get caught in the neutral zone flat-footed and turning pucks over. I think we were able to do that by coming together with speed and getting the puck in deep. We got a lot of good forechecking going early and put them on their heels. It gave us confidence that we had throughout the game."

The Detroit Red Wing was part of the Swedes' gold-medal effort in Torino in 2006 and is hoping to have the same feeling here in Sochi on Sunday.

"It would mean a huge amount," Alfredsson said. "A lot. It's an unbelievable feeling being back in the final and playing for gold. Except for our setback with Zetterberg -- I felt so sad for him -- it's been an unbelievable tournament. We've had a lot of fun. Now we have to regroup and make sure we play our best game on Sunday."

For the Finns -- who were without starting goalie Tuukka Rask, out with the flu -- it was another bitter ending to a clash with the hockey equivalent of their older, more successful brother. The Finns were beaten by the Swedes in the gold-medal game in 2006, and their history is dotted with losses in important games to the Tre Kronor.

Still, it's hard to pin this one on Lehtonen, who made several key saves en route to a 23-save day. The one he'd like to have back, though, was Erik Karlsson's winner, a blast on the power play in the second period that Lehtonen got a piece of but could not prevent from ending up in the back of the net.

"It's just one of those things," the Dallas Stars' goalie said. "You want to make the save, but today I wasn't able to. It's the way it goes. I'm not happy about that second one but there's nothing I can do about it now."

Four years ago, the Finns were humbled in the semifinals by the U.S., but rebounded to take the bronze in a come-from-behind effort against Slovakia.

Someone asked Sami Lepisto if the Finns, who have never won an Olympic gold in men's hockey, simply can't win the big games.

"I don't know," he said. "That's a good question. In Vancouver we [messed] the bed against the U.S. Today, I felt like we didn't have our best game. I don't know. It's very disappointing."

One thing you can count on from the Finns, though: They will treat the bronze-medal game with the same resolve they treat every game.

"It's very disappointing," Jussi Jokinen said. "These are the chances you don't get too often. It's four more years, and we don't know if NHL players are there after these Olympics, so it's a tough pill to swallow.

"Obviously our goal was to win Olympic gold here, and we came up short. Obviously, still one more game for us tomorrow, and we would like to get at least a medal to go home."

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