Jamie Benn scored the game-winner as Canada defeated the United States to advance to the gold medal game at the Olympics in Sochi. And Kari Lehtonen was the surprise starter for Finland against Sweden, but he and his teammates came up short and will now play for the bronze medal.
Canada 1, USA 0
Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the only goal and Montreal goaltender Carey Price stopped all 31 shots he faced as Canada advanced to the gold medal game with a 1-0 victory over the United States Friday. Canada will go for its second straight gold medal at the Olympics when it plays Sweden on Sunday.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Benn told CBC. “We found a way to win and it was a great team effort.”
Benn, who had an impressive game playing on a line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, scored what held up as the game-winner at 1:41 of the second period, deflecting a Jay Bouwmeester shot by USA goaltender Jonathan Quick.
“[Getzlaf] found me in the middle, I made a feed back to the D and Bouwmeester made a great shot-pass,” Benn told NBC Sports.
Benn said it was the biggest goal of his career.
“I’d have to say so,” he told CBC.
Canada didn’t sit on the lead, keeping up the pressure on the USA the rest of the way. Quick was superb in net for the Americans, stopping 35 of 36 shots in the game. Price was superb for Canada, improving to 4-0 in the tournament with a 0.74 goals against average and .963 save percentage.
“That defensive group in front of me plays very well," Price told IIHF.com. “They’re very good at boxing guys out and letting me having my eyes. Our forwards backchecked really hard tonight. I think that was the difference.”
The United States will play Finland for the bronze medal on Saturday.
“At the moment, there’s a great conglomeration of both [anger and disappointment],” Team USA forward David Backes said. “We had an awesome opportunity. I don’t think we laid it all on the line the way we needed to in order to win. A 1-0 game in a semifinal against your rival country, it’s a sour taste for sure.”
Sweden 2, Finland 1
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen was the surprise starter in goal for Finland due to Tuukka Rask becoming ill prior to the game, and Lehtonen stopped 23 of 25 shots, but Finland fell 2-1 to Sweden and will play the United States for the bronze medal on Saturday.
Loui Eriksson and Erik Karlsson scored goals and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots for the Swedes, who will play Canada for gold on Sunday.
"It's a great feeling winning the semifinals and knowing we're going to the finals," Eriksson told IIHF.com.
The two teams played a scoreless first period. Finland had three power play chances, including a lengthy five-on-three, but couldn’t take advantage.
Finland took the lead when Olli Jokinen scored from a sharp angle at 6:17 of the second period. Eriksson scored from close range to tie the game a little more than five minutes later.
Karlsson scored the game-winner, beating Lehtonen with a shot from the point with Sweden on the power play at 16:26 of the second.
"It’s just the way it goes," said Lehtonen. "I’m not happy about allowing that second one."
Finland had an 8-3 shots advantage in the third period, but couldn’t get the equalizer against Lundqvist and the Swedes.
*Both of Jamie Benn’s goals in the Olympics have been game-winners.
*Benn again played on a line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on Friday. He had the one goal, four shots and a plus-one rating in 15:06 of ice time.
*In five tournament games, Benn has two goals, 15 shots, a plus-one rating and four penalty minutes. He is averaging 13:05 of ice time per game.
*Benn’s 15 shots rank second on Canada. Jeff Carter is tops with 21.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 1-1-0 at the tournament with a 1.51 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
Friday’s semifinals games
Sweden 2, Finland 1
Canada 1, USA 0
Saturday’s bronze medal game
USA vs. Finland, 9:00 a.m., NBC Sports Network
Sunday’s gold medal game
Sweden vs. Canada, 6:00 a.m., NBC
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.