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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sweden Triumphs in Thrilling Shoot-Out

LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- There were breathless end-to-end rushes, desperation comebacks and not a shred of surrender in either team, not even after the grueling overtime had come and gone. By the time the sudden-death shoot-out arrived, Sweden's Kenny Joensson had skated off unsteadily after being knocked unconscious and Canada's Todd Hlusko had a wicked bruise under one eye.


This was the curtain-closing event of the XVII Winter Games, one more rousing memory to heap atop the others made in Lillehammer over the last 16 days. Until Sunday, Sweden had never won the hockey gold medal at the Winter Olympics and Canada, the cradle of the sport, has not seized one in 42 years.


But somehow, rather than succumb to the pressure or wilt from desire, the two teams played a hockey game for the ages through 60 throat-constricting minutes of regulation, and the 10-minute overtime, and that heart-stopping shoot-out that was ended on the seventh go-round by a kid center named Peter Forsberg.


With the crowd screaming as he took the puck at center ice, Forsberg came bearing down on Canadian goalie Corey Hirsch until, near the goal crease, he hesitated with the puck on his stick for what felt like an interminable amount of time.


Hirsch finally flinched first when it seemed only four feet or so separated the two men. And Forsberg -- stickhandling the puck right, then left, then right again -- slid an agonizingly slow backhand shot along the ice, just under Hirsch's glove just a millisecond before the glove hit ice.


"I thought I had it," Hirsch said.


When Canadian Paul Kariya, 19, could not answer Forsberg's challenge, Sweden had its first Olympic hockey gold, 3-2, and Canada settled for silver for the second time in the past two Olympic Games.


The overtime -- which Sweden earned by scoring a power-play goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game -- was much like regulation, with the Swedes running their breathtaking, patterned offense that relies on pinpoint passing and some striking stickhandling and skating, and the Canadians playing their grinding, board-crashing, dump-and-chase game.


From there it was on to the shoot-out -- five designated shooters from each team taking turns shooting penalty shot attempts at the other's goalie. When the sudden-death format kicked in after five shots, Forsberg got his chance. While Swedes celebrated, Canada went home stricken. Players from both sides agreed the shoot-out format did not seem a fitting way to end such an important game. Especially considering how fiercely, even heroically, it had been played.


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Swedish defenseman Tomas Jonsson joins teammates Hakan Loob and Mats Naslund as the only players ever to win a Stanley Cup, a world championship and an Olympic gold medal.


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Viktor Tikhonov coached some of the Soviet Union's greatest hockey teams, but his Olympic finale was less than glorious.


Tikhonov, who has coached the Soviets, Unified Team and Russians since 1978, apparently coached his last game Saturday in Russia's 4-0 shutout loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game. It was the first time since the Soviets began playing in the Olympic hockey tournament that a Soviet or Russian team failed to win a medal.


Information on Tikhonov is sketchy, but journalists from Russia say his contract expires March 15 and will not be renewed. They said Boris Mikhailov, a former Soviet player, will coach the Russian team at the World Championships in April, to be held in Italy.