- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

SOCHI, RussiaSweden 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 on Friday and into the Olympic hockey final.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Lundqvist said.

The 2006 Olympic champions will face the United States or Canada on Sunday. The Finns will play the loser of that game for third on Saturday.

“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.”

Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist reacts as time runs off the clock to give Sweden a 2-1 win over Finland in a men's semifinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist reacts as time runs off the clock to ... more >

The Swedes are not known for physical play, but 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 5-on-3 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 in the three-goal game came in the second period. Finland’s Olli Jokinen scored 6:17 into the game from a sharp angle to the left of Lundqvist. Loui Eriksson tied the game for the Swedes 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.

Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves for the Finns while filling in for Tuukka Rask, 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 required.

It was yet another strong performance from the goaltender who led the Swedes to gold eight years ago, when they beat Finland in the final of the Turin Games.

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