2010 Winter Olympics: Finland Falls Hard To Sweden, but Retains Bye

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IFebruary 22, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 21:  Players from Sweden celebrate after goal in the second period by Nicklas Backstrom against Finland during the ice hockey men's preliminary game on day 10 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 21, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

On "Rivalry Sunday" hockey fans were treated to a unique set of three games.

The matchup between Russia and Czech Republic, United States and Canada, and Finland and Sweden represented the last three gold medal game match ups from 1998, 2002, and 2006, respectively.

The trends of the day looked promising for Finland as each of the previous sliver medalists (Russia and the United States) won the games.

Unfortunately for Finland, they decided to buck the trend.

Team Finland fell 3-0 to archrival Sweden in the final preliminary round game.

Despite a strong start in the first few minutes of the game, Finland took two penalties early in the first period, which lead to a 5-on-3 power play for Sweden that yielded a goal from Dallas Stars forward Loui Eriksson.

From that point, Sweden took complete control of the game.

Finland was unable to sustain any offensive pressure in Sweden's zone, were turned away repeatedly at the offensive blue-line, and despite being handed five straight power-plays, two of them 5-on-3, could not effectively execute on the power play.

Loui Ericsson added another goal in the second, and Nashville Predators forward, Nicklas Backstrom scored his first Olympic goal in the same frame.

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Facing a 3-0 deficit, Finland made things even worse on themselves at the end of the second as defenseman Joni Pitkanen blatantly threw an elbow to the head of Patric Holmqvist resulting in a five minute major and ejection from the game.

Team Finland's lackluster effort continued into the third period, save for the play of Miikka Kiprusoff and Tuomo Ruutu.

Kiprusoff did his best to keep his team in the game, making several key saves among the nine shots he faced in the third; he finished the game with 32.

Tuomo Ruutu also had a very strong game as he executed an aggressive fore-check and delivered several hits in an effort to infuse some energy into his team's otherwise uninspired play.

However, despite the poor showing, Team Finland will retain their bye privilege and will not need to play a qualifying game on Tuesday as their six points in the preliminary round were good enough to retain the fourth place position in the bracket.

Finland will play the winner of the Czech Republic versus Latvia game to be played on Tuesday.