Sweden got goals from three different Detroit Red Wings but it was Nicklas Lidström’s game-winning blast in the opening seconds of the third period that lifted the Tre Kronor to a 3-2 win over their Nordic rivals.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” said forward Peter Forsberg, who was the hero for Sweden when they won their only other Olympic gold medal in 1994 in Lillehammer.
“It is hard to describe. I am very happy for my teammates because I have won it before. I knew it was over when I saw the puck go out of our zone with four second left.”
Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg, who are both teammates of Lidström in the National Hockey League, scored back-to-back power play goals in the second period as the Swedes rallied from a 1-0 deficit at the end of the first period at the Palasport Olimpico arena.
Lidstrom, who has won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, scored just 10 seconds into the period with a slapshot that sailed over the shoulder of Finnish goalie Antero Niittymaki before hitting the crossbar and dropped into the net. Both teams had a player in the penalty box.
The play started when Swedish centre Mats Sundin broke the stick of Finnish forward Saku Koivu on the opening faceoff.
Koivu had to go to the bench to get a new stick allowing Sundin and the others to break in on the Finnish defence.
“The key to the play was Sundin breaking the guy’s stick on the faceoff,” Forsberg said.
Second seeded Sweden came into the tournament as one of the favourites for gold with a solid core of veterans and new confidence in their netminding which had been one of their weaknesses in past international tournaments.
“We got an experienced team this time around,” Sundin said.
Finland swarmed the Swedish goal in the last minute but couldn’t get the puck past Henrik Lundqvist who was brilliant in the net for Sweden making 25 saves.
The Swedes stormed over the boards when the final buzzer sounded as they threw their gloves and sticks in the air and mobbed Lundqvist.
Sundin made it official announcing after the game that this would be his final Olympics.
Lidström and Forsberg may have also been playing in their last games.