One of the medal favorites for the women's ice hockey was unceremoniously dumped out, as Finland lost 4-2 to Sweden on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Winter Olympics:
After two rather subdued periods, the game came to life in the third. The final 20 minutes featured four goals, as each team's defense wilted late.
In the end, Sweden proved too much. Their attack started the game slowly. They were very poor in the first period, failing to create any real goalscoring opportunities.
As the game dragged on, though, the Swedes gained their footing and exerted more and more influence. You can see that in the number of shots for each team. Finland's total declined over the three periods—12, 11, 8—while Sweden's improved from the first to second and remained high in the third—6, 13, 13.
The Swedes grabbed the momentum in the final period and despite a little hiccup, didn't look back. Although Finland arguably had the advantage for two-thirds of the game, it's hard to suggest that Sweden weren't deserving winners.
The first goal of the game came with 6:44 to go in the second period. Finland attacked with numbers quickly, catching the Swedish defense off guard a little bit. Linda Valimaki unleashed a high shot that Valentina Wallner saved. Unfortunately for her, she couldn't clear the danger, as Valimaki had another chance in front of goal. The puck bounced around, and Venla Hovi was there to finish, no pun intended.
The Finnish attack did well to pounce on the rebound, as they had three attackers around the puck and beat the Swedish defense to the position. Wallner didn't stand a chance.
Sweden tied the game with a power-play goal courtesy of Anna Borgqvist with 19:14 left in the third period.
Up to that point, Noora Raty had done a great job of gobbling up the Swedish shots and preventing any second-chance opportunities.
On Borgqvist's goal, though, there was nothing she could do, as it took everything she had to save Emma Eliasson's shot. The puck bounced to the 21-year-old, and she had a rather easy finish to make it 1-1.
Sweden took a 2-1 lead with 14:51 to play with a goal by Lina Wester. It was surprisingly poor defending by the Finns, as Wester found herself in a perfect position with nobody around her. Pernilla Winberg did a great job of picking Wester out and earned an assist for the effort.
And Sweden goes up 2-1 after a goal from Lina Wester. Great pass from Winberg to find her in the slot.— Gabs Fundaro (@gabfun) February 15, 2014
Just 12 seconds later, Finland tied it up, as Emma Nuutinen poked it home.
With 4:15 to go, Sweden went on top for good, and yet again, the goal came on the power play. Only eight seconds into said power play, Eliasson found herself alone at the point after the faceoff. She unleashed a vicious shot on goal that somehow weaved its way through the mass of humanity in front of net to beat Raty. You could see on the replays that the Finnish goaltender had no idea where the puck was.
Emma Nordin added an empty-netter with 49 seconds to go to ice the game away.
Sweden move on to play the United States in the semifinals, which will take place on Monday.
The U.S. will be heavily motivated to atone for its 3-2 loss to Canada during the preliminary round. Team USA entered Sochi as one of the medal favorites, and the Americans will be looking to demonstrate why in the next round.
Sweden will no doubt have their hands full but should they play as well as they did in the third period on Saturday, they could pull out the victory.
Finland goes into the losers' bracket in order to determine the fifth through eighth place finishers. They play Germany on Sunday.