TURIN, Italy - The big Swedish three aren’t going home to celebrate. They’re not heading to Vancouver for a repeat in four years, either.
This was the moment for Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin and Nicklas Lidstrom. The one opportunity to erase the painful memories of recent Olympics past.
And they sealed it in the most perfect of ways: Forsberg to Sundin to Lidstrom for a blistering slap shot that was truly golden.
“I kind of knew it was our last chance, and this is the way we wanted to go out,” Forsberg said.
Lidstrom’s goal, coming just 10 seconds into the third period, snapped a tie and sent Sweden to a 3-2 victory over Finland on Sunday in the men’s hockey finale.
It also sent them packing — for North America.
With the NHL schedule due to resume Tuesday, and the airport in Turin shut down Sunday night for the closing ceremonies of the games, the Swedes weren’t able to head to Stockholm for a celebration that started as soon as the final horn sounded.
That’s where the people partied like it was 1994.
“We wished we had time to go back to Sweden,” said Forsberg, who scored the gold-medal winning goal 12 years ago in Lillehammer, the only other time the small European nation claimed Olympic glory.
It’s been hockey heartache since.
The Swedes earned what should’ve been an easy road to the semis four years ago in Salt Lake City when they drew lowly Belarus in the round of 8. But instead of moving on, they were bounced by Belarus.
Shaun Best / Reuters
Sweden's Nicklas Lidstrom, left, celebrates with teammate Niklas Kronwall after scoring the eventual game-winning goal 10 seconds into the third period against Finland to lead Sweden to a 3-2 victory and the gold medal.
Whether the Swedes laid down, or not, is up for debate. Their convincing 6-3 win to start the medal round was clearly a smooth start on the road to the top step on the podium.
“What happened in Salt Lake is always going to be there,” forward Daniel Alfredsson said. “It’s something I’m not going to cry about. It’s something you go through and you learn from.
“When we went into the Switzerland game, we knew that we can’t take anybody lightly.”
They dispatched the high-powered Czech Republic and set up a matchup with their neighbor and biggest rival Finland. So when they got their gold, the smiles were even brighter than the shining medals each player kissed to the sky.
“It means a lot to Swedish hockey,” Sundin said. “I think this generation of players, we are getting older, and this is probably our last chance, so it’s great.”
For the Finns it was another disappointment against the nation they often come up short against. Sweden has two Olympic gold medals to Finland’s zero. The Swedes are also ahead 7-1 in world titles.
“It’s hard to see those guys lose a game, but somebody had to win the gold,” Forsberg said.
Forsberg has done that twice and had a big hand in the clinching goal each time.