Sports

Sweden ousts Finland to reach gold-medal game

The Bruins’  Loui Eriksson, right, celebrated his goal against Finland with teammate Nicklas Backstrom.

Matt Slocum/AP

The Bruins’ Loui Eriksson (right) celebrated his goal against Finland with teammate Nicklas Backstrom.

SOCHI, Russia — Sweden beat up and defeated its biggest rival, and the reward is a shot at a second gold medal in the last three Olympics.

Erik Karlsson scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 25 saves, lifting the Swedes over Finland, 2-1, Friday and into the Olympic hockey final.

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‘‘It’s an amazing feeling,’’ Lundqvist said.

The 2006 Olympic champions will face Canada on Sunday. The Finns will play the US for third place Saturday.

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‘‘A bronze medal would be an unbelievable thing,’’ 43-year-old forward Teemu Selanne said. ‘‘So that is our goal now, even though it is very disappointing right now.’’

Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves in goal for the Finns while filling in for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins goalie, who didn’t play because of an unspecified illness. Lehtonen kept his team in the game, but the defensive-minded Finns struggled to generate many scoring chances. When they did, Lundqvist made the stops.

The Bruins’ Loui Eriksson scored for Sweden, tying the game at 11:39 of the second after Finland had gone ahead, 1-0, earlier in the period.

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The Swedes are not known for physical play, but they showed Selanne and his teammates their game plan included a heavy dose of hitting.

Niklas Kronwall was called for interference after hitting Selanne with an elbow late, one of several big checks from the hard-hitting defenseman.

‘‘I’m trying to make it hard and eliminate as much space as possible because if you give him space, he’s going to do some damage,’’ Kronwall said.

Perhaps the pounding took its toll on the Finnish Flash.

Kronwall’s penalty late in the first period gave Finland a five-on-three power play, but it couldn’t capitalize. Selanne had the best opportunity to score during the two-man advantage, but he failed to get much of his stick on a shot that Lundqvist stopped easily.

‘‘It was not an easy day for me,’’ he acknowledged.

All the scoring came in the second. Finland’s Olli Jokinen scored 6:17 into the game from a sharp angle to the left of Lundqvist. Eriksson tied the game by finishing off a sweet sequence of passes midway through the period. Karlsson made it 2-1 with a slap shot from the middle of the ice just inside the blue line with 3:34 remaining.

The Finns are usually good at keeping leads by clogging the middle of the ice, forcing teams to the outside of the wider ice surface used in international play, but they were unable to stop Sweden in a pair of pivotal moments.

‘‘It’s tough, we had a lead,’’ Jokinen said. ‘‘We should have been able to put them away.’’

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