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Lundqvist's stellar season now good as gold

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has already made a big name for himself in the NHL this season, and now he's proven himself on the world's greatest athletic stage, too.

Lundqvist helped Sweden win the Olympic hockey gold medal in Torino on Sunday, as the Swedes beat Finland 3-2 for their first gold since 1994 and their first medal since the NHL began sending players to the Olympics in 1998.

With 25 saves, Lundqvist was at his best in the third period, stopping all 10 Finland shots.

Sweden's victory ended a magical run for the Finns, who had gone 7-0 in the Olympic tournament leading up to the championship game. The Finnish team, which included Rangers winger Ville Nieminen, took the silver medal in their best Olympic showing since 1988.

Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, a three-time Norris Trophy winner with the Detroit Red Wings, delivered the winning goal for Sweden 10 seconds into the third period. His drive from just inside the blue line beat Finland's Antero Niittymaki, snapping a 2-2 tie.

The Finns had taken an early 1-0 lead on a first-period power-play goal by Saku Koivu, but Sweden came back with power play goals by Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronvall in the second period before Finland tied it up on Ville Peltonen's tally at 15:00 of the second.

Despite Finland's loss, Niittymaki edged Lundqvist in the voting for the goaltender position on the tournament All-Star team. He was also named the Olympic MVP.

In his Olympic debut, Lundqvist went 5-1, allowing only 12 goals in his six starts.

Lundqvist and Nieminen, who also won his first Olympic medal, gave the Rangers a total of six medals in Torino after four others from the Czech Republic team captured bronze on Saturday. The Rangers and Red Wings will be the only NHL teams to bring six medals home from these Olympics.

The emotional victory for the Swedes came against their arch-rival and buried the memory of a disappointing quarterfinal loss to Belarus at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
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