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ROC, Finland to Play for Men's Olympic Hockey Gold

Two familiar foes will battle it out for the Olympic men's hockey gold medal after the Russian Olympic Committee and Finland came out with wins on Friday in Beijing.
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Russia Edges Sweden in Shootout

The Russian Olympic Committee needed some shootout heroics to beat Sweden 2-1 on Friday.

It's the second consecutive gold medal appearance for the Russians, who, under the Olympic Athletes of Russia banner, beat Germany for the title in South Korea in 2018.

Since breaking off from the Soviet Union, Russia, or teams affiliated with it, have won two other medals - a silver in 1998 and a bronze in 2002. Russia's last gold at an IIHF men's level under the "Russia" banner was at the 2014 World Championship in Minsk following a dominant 10-0 record.

Sweden will look for its first medal since taking silver in Sochi eight years ago. Sweden's last bronze was in 1988 following a three-tournament run as the third-best team.

It was a similar game to Finland's 1-0 shutout over Slovakia earlier in the day, with neither team taking many risks in a defensive-minded game. The lone goal came just 15 seconds into the middle stanza when Anton Slepyshev broke in off of a Pavel Karnaukhov rush and beat Lars Johansson on his own rebound.

The lead lasted until 46:22 when Sweden's No. 58, Anton Lander, tied it up. Lander picked up a rebound from a shot from the blueline and beat 6-foot-8 goaltender Ivan Fedotov to tie the game up and bring the pulse of the game up a bit.

The rest of the game was next-goal-wins territory, but nobody could tally another goal in regulation. The shootout was spectacular, with both teams getting multiple goals before Arseni Gritsyuk scored the game-winner on Russia's eighth shot to win the game and help the team advance to the final.

Finns Shutout Slovakia

Finland's perfect 2-0 game over Slovakia will give them a shot at their first Olympic hockey gold.

The Finns beat Slovakia 6-2 during the round-robin portion of the tournament. Finland won the other previous Olympic meeting between the two nations, taking a 5-3 win back in 2010 with NHLers in the bronze medal game.

Finland is guaranteed at least a silver for the third time in the team's Olympic history, grabbing second in Calgary in 1988 and again in Italy in 2006. This will be the seventh medal game for Finland in the past 10 tournaments, helping prove that they're one of the best teams on the Olympic circuit.

Slovakia will look to win its first medal in tournament history, with its only bronze medal game appearance coming in that 2010 loss to the Finns.

After some good back-and-forth between the two teams, Finland scored at 15:58 to break the deadlock. Sakari Manninen managed to beat Patrik Rybar after Petteri Lindbohm's shot was stopped, but Manninen got the rebound and fooled Rybar into moving his leg out of the way for the 1-0 goal. The Slovaks tried desperately to beat Finnish goaltender Harri Sateri, who stopped all 28 shots sent his way, but an empty netter by Harri Pesonen with 38.6 seconds left sealed the deal for Finland.

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Championship Schedule

BMG: Sweden vs. Slovakia - 8:10 AM ET (Feb. 19)
GMG: ROC vs. Finland - 11:10 PM ET (Feb. 19)

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