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Finland and Sweden finished their group stage in the Olympic tournament with a Sunday game against each other. The loving neighbours were in the situation that with a draw after 60 minutes they both would qualify straight to the quarter finals.

After the second period it clearly didn’t seem that Finland would’ve had any kind of a chance to come back, when trailing 3–0. However, the Lions started to push towards Magnus Hellberg at Sweden’s net and after all came out with a win through overtime – score being 4–3.

An easy start to the game

The game started with physical battle as especially Sweden tried to shake Finland up with some heavy hits near the boards. Finland was ready for the challenge and as neither of the teams were able to take the control, the events on the ice got a little bit cautious. That caused both teams to struggle with their opening passes.

There wasn’t that much time played on the special forces in the first period, but that was about to change later in the game. Both teams got their opportunity on power play before the first intermission, but the quality of the sequences wasn’t such that could defeat either Swedsh Hellberg or Jussi Olkinuora guarding the net in Finland’s end of the ice.

Finland lost their focus to the game

If the beginning of the game wasn’t full of energy and emotion, it all changed in the second period. Lucas Wallmark scored the first goal of the game, when Saku Mäenalanen was sitting on a minor penalty. The goal was scored through a beautiful passing sequence and Olkinuora couldn’t get himself on the puck’s way.

Finland got into even deeper in trouble, when Salavat Yulaev forward Markus Granlund tackled Jokerit defenceman Philip Holm to the head, causing Sweden a major power play opportunity. Granlund was sent off the ice with a game-misconduct and Lukas Bengtsson capitalized, keeping Tre Kronor’s power play percentage on a high level.

When Swedish captain Anton Lander sweeped the puck behind Olkinuora on the third consecutive power play, it seemed that Finland were about to fall behind and end up losing the match-up. Finland showed a great deal of undisciplined playing and even the most experienced players were having tough times keeping their heads cool.

The second period concluded with some more penalties, but neither Finland or Sweden couldn’t score any more goals before 40 minutes were played.

Finland showed their fighting spirit

It remains not sure, what Finland head coach Jukka Jalonen did or said on the second intermission, but the third period changed the way of the game completely. If Sweden had been dominant on the special forces until now, it was about time for the Finnish Lions to stand out.

Granlund’s line mate from Salavat Yulaev Teemu Hartikainen scored on the power play right at the start of the period and Jokerit power house Iiro Pakarinen finiished another attack with a sweet outcome for the Finns. As the period went on, Finland got a better grab on the events on the ice and Sweden started to lose their momentum.

Sweden didn’t have to deal with penalty killing in the early game, but once Finland got their engine roaring, the Tre Kronor were in trouble.

It was less than three minutes on the clock, when Pakarinen smashed the puck once again behind Hellberg from the netfront, making it a tied game. The Salavat Yulaev line had been very quiet in the first two period, but they really came in to the spotlight, when it was needed.

The game went to overtime and there Harri Pesonen got an open spot to conclude the game and the fiery forward didn’t lose the oppurtunity. There was a bit of uncertainty, wheather Sweden should’ve or could’ve challenged the deciding goal as goaltender interference, but they decided not to.

Half way through with the Olympic tournament

Finland winning Sweden on overtime means that both Nordic countries will qualify straight to the quarter finals of the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament.

The playoffs of the tournament will be played in such way that teams placed in the bottom of the groups will play against each other to get through to the actual quarter finals. From there it will go with the common fashion with best-of-one games and the Olympic champion will be decided in a week in the final game.

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