By Josh Ferguson
Loui Eriksson scored a pair of power play goals and Henrik Lundqvist was perfect in goal for the Swedes to clinch top spot in Group C with a 3-0 victory over Finland.
Lundqvist’s shutout is his second in as many games for Sweden in the 2010 Olympics. ‘King Henrik’ will be riding a hot streak into the next round after stopping all 41 shots he has faced through two games.
One might say that the Swedes beat the Finns at their own game after Finland put on a power play clinic during the opening games of the tournament. With two men in the box for Finland, it was Sweden who put a meticulous man advantage together that was capped by a Nicklas Backstrom cross-crease pass that Eriksson chopped home 6:41 into the first to open the scoring.
Backstrom would give the Swedes a two-goal lead and pick up his first goal of the Olympics when he roofed a shot over the shoulder of Finnish keeper Miikka Kiprusoff in the second.
After the Backstrom goal, Sweden got into some penalty trouble by taking four straight minor penalties, which also resulted in 1:40 of being down two men. Thanks to some fearless shot blocking from Niklas Kronwall, the Swedes dodged a bullet to keep the score at 2-0.
With Sami Lepisto serving a minor for tripping, Finland found themselves with a big penalty to kill, but Eriksson would collect his second power play goal of the game when he walked-out from the beside the net and out-waited Kiprusoff before shoveling it past him to make it a three-goal game after the second.
Finland failed to produce any offense that Lundqvist couldn’t handle in the third and the Swedes held on for the 3-0 win. The Swedish keeper stopped all 20 Finnish shots, while Kiprusoff made 29 saves on 32 shots at the other end.
A blemish for Sweden in the near-perfect game was the loss of Patric Hornqvist, who had to be helped off the ice after Finnish defenseman Joni Pitkanen delivered a high-hit to the head of the Swede. Pitkanen was given a game misconduct and 25 minutes in penalties. In addition, he will miss the Finns quarterfinal game due to an automatic one-game suspension that comes with a game misconduct.
Sweden (3-0-0-0) finishes with a perfect record, but will sit in second place for the quarterfinals after losing the goal differential tiebreaker to the Americans. Despite the loss, Finland (2-1-0-0) picks up the wildcard spot to get the final bye into the quarterfinals.