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Sweden Nails Men's Ice Hockey Title
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In a first-ever Olympic gold medal game between two Scandinavian countries, Sweden edged out Finland 3-2 at the Turin Winter Olympic Games on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist, goalkeeper of the Swedish team, said: "Just unbelievable. Our goal going into this tournament was gold and to have the opportunity to play against Finland was great. It was a great game and we got the win."

Lundqvist tipped his performance OK. "I think I handled it OK. I didn't play as well as I could until the third period where the only thing on my mind was to get the gold."

It's Sweden's first men's ice hockey gold medal since the 1994 Lillehammer Games when Sweden beat Canada 3-2 in the final.

Peter Forsberg compared the two golds.

"I don't know which one was better. I was 21 back then but this definitely feels great."

Mats Sundin, captain of the Swedish team, was now satisfied after previous disappointments.

"To go out against Belarus in the quarterfinals (in 2002) was very disappointing for us and the Swedish people so to come back and win gold like this is very satisfying," he said.

"This is my last Olympics and it is an amazing way to go out."

The Finns were brought unbridled joy as Kimmo Timonen scored the first goal on a power play past Henrik Lundqvist at 14:45 of the first period.

The joy didn't last long as Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall scored, both through power plays, at 24:42 and 33:24 for the Swedes in the second period.

Kronwall said: "Mats (Sundin) just laid up there, I just tried to go high on the block side and shoot high. That's what I just tried to do."

However, the Finns still saw a slim hope looming ahead after Ville Peltonen leveled the score at 2-2, assisted by Jussi Jokinenand Olli Jokinen.

The Finns' hopes were completely dashed 10 seconds into the third period as Nicklas Lidstrom made the decisive shot, helping the Swedes onto the top podium.

And the Finns' first Olympic men's ice hockey final ended with a silver medal.

The Finns had some chances to get the equalizer before the final buzzer, but Lundqvist did several great saves and made the Finns' efforts in vain.

"It's tough. We are very disappointed," said Finland forward Jarkko Ruutu. "We couldn't score during the last period to get the tie and that was our problem. We had many opportunities but we were not able. It's hard to face. We won all our previous games, but we lost the final."

Saku Koivu had mixed feelings.

"It's a proud moment but also a tough one. There are moments like this in sport, in hockey, where it's tough to see the positive at the moment. For some reasons we didn't get the best game out of us today and Sweden is a veteran team and they handled it better."

In the previous Olympic encounters, Sweden had met Finland 10 times, winning five games, losing two and tying three.

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2006)

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