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Sweden Advances to Gold Medal Game; Finland to Play for Bronze

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BostonBruins.com - Loui Eriksson will be playing for the gold medal, as Sweden defeated Finland 2-1 on Friday in Sochi.

Tuukka Rask was not between the pipes for Finland. The goaltender was out due to the flu and did not dress for the game. He reportedly played through symptoms in the quarterfinal against Russia, when he made 37 saves in the 3-1 win.

Kari Lehtonen found out about an hour before game time that he was getting the nod. Henrik Lundqvist minded the net at the other end.

Eriksson scored the game-tying goal for Sweden, putting up goals in back-to-back games at the tournament. Seemingly gaining more confidence each game, as Sweden has won five straight in Sochi, the Bruins winger continues to play in a top role for his country.

After a scoreless first period, Finland took a 1-0 lead in the second, when Olli Jokinen hustled back after an icing was waved off and squeezed the puck past Lunqvist's pads.

Finland started to gain the upper hand, but just over five minutes later, Eriksson tied it up with a clutch tally.

After a Finland turnover, Sweden completed a perfect passing play, from Daniel Sedin along the boards to Nicklas Backstrom down low, to Jonathan Ericsson up at the point. The defenseman threaded a feed down to Eriksson, who finished off the play near the crease.

Later in the period, Erik Karlsson's power-play drive found its way through Lehtonen for the eventual 2-1 win.

Eriksso finished the game with 20:25 in ice time, second most among forwards. Only his linemate Nicklas Backstrom (20:43) clocked in more. A constant trend throughout the Olympics, Eriksson led all Sweden forwards in the third, logging 7:41 in ice time.

The winger has been reliable every game for Sweden, who started the tournament without Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen (sidelined by injuries), and lost Henrik Zetterberg to the same fate after the first game.

Sweden last won gold in 2006, while Finland has never won Olympic gold in men's hockey. It was their third straight trip the semifinals.

Rask's squad will now compete for the bronze medal on Saturday, February 22 (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN). We'll stay tuned for his status heading into the game.

"Hockey is highs and lows and hopefully tomorrow is going to be another high," Finland captain Teemu Selanne told reporters in Sochi.

Eriksson and Sweden will face the winner of the USA-Canada semifinal in the gold medal game on Sunday. Puck drops on that game at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBC.

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