February 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Red Wing-heavy Swedes top Finns to reach Olympic hockey final

Sweden defenseman Erik Karlsson reacts after scoring a goal against Finland during the second period of a men's semifinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia (Petr David Josek / AP)

Sochi, Russia — Five Red Wings and a former Wolverine moved to the gold medal game against Canada in men’s hockey Friday, as Sweden defeated Finland, 2-1.

Jonathan Ericsson, of the Red Wings, made a big play, assisting on the first goal for Sweden by Loui Eriksson, tying the game 1-1 at 11 minutes, 39 seconds of the second period. Eric Karlsson put the Swedes ahead at 16:26 of the period with a booming shot from the blue line on a power play.

Finnish forward Olli Jokinen opened the scoring at 6:17 of the first period.

Carl Hagelin, who played for Michigan, had a couple opportunities, but failed to score for Sweden.

He was also on the ice for Jokinen’s goal, which Swedish players said resulted on what they assumed was about to be an icing call.

“He got past us and scored,” Hagelin said.

Jokinen beat Henrik Lundqvist, of the Rangers, on the short side. Lundqvist said he was surprised as hockey officiating continues to raise issues at the Games.

“I gave up a tough one, there,” Lundqvist said. “I definitely thought it was icing, so I kind of relaxed and I just made a bad move.

“I’m happy that goal didn’t matter and we bounced back with two big ones.”

Sweden improved to 5-0 in the tournament.

Despite the huge national rivalry between the bordering countries, the game featured little emotion. Much of the predominantly Russian crowd seemed still to be adjusting to the national sports calamity of Finland defeating Russia on Wednesday.

There was a spirited matchup between Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, captain of Sweden in the absence of the injured Henrik Zetterberg, and Teemu Selanne, captain of Finland.

It was clear from the start that wherever Selanne would go, Kronwall would try to be first.

Just after the 13-minute mark of the first period, Kronwall bumped Selanne, who flopped to the ice in what replays clearly showed was a dive.

Kronwall stood above Selanne, waited for him to stand and discussed the situation before finally skating to the penalty box.

Selanne had two shots and no points.

“We played a lot of shifts against each other,” Kronwall said. “We were trying to make it hard and eliminate space. If you give him space, he will do some damage.”

Selanne was playing in his sixth and final Olympics, and will appear in his last game for Finland on Saturday for the bronze medal against Team USA, which lost 1-0 to Canada on Friday.

“We’re very disappointed that we could not play our best game in the tournament,” he said. “I felt we were always a step behind.

“One goal was a mistake in coverage in our own end, and the other was on the power play. So obviously the margin was very small, and they found a way to win the game.”

Finland had the fewest NHL players of any of the four teams playing in the semifinals. Sweden had one player, Jimmie Ericsson, who does not play in the NHL.

Daniel Alfredsson, of the Red Wings, played 15:36 for Sweden, but did not contribute to the scoring. Alfredsson is appearing in his fifth Olympics

Gustav Nyquist, of the Red Wings, is being used sparingly in the tournament, and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson did not dress.

“We always aimed at the gold,” Swedish coach Par Marts said. “Our team is such a good team that we can win the gold. We know the opposition is really good, so it will be a tricky journey. But we think we can do it.”

Marts is a veteran coach of the national team and, over the years, many of the significant number of Red Wings from Sweden have said he was a strong influence on the development of their careers.

Finland joins the former Czechoslovakia and Switzerland as the teams to play the most times in the Winter Games without winning the gold. All three have played 16 times.