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Sweden first team to win worlds, Olympics same year

5/21/2006 - NHL

RIGA, Latvia -- Sweden shut out defending champion Czech Republic 4-0 on Sunday to win hockey's world championship, becoming the first country to win that title and Olympic gold in the same year.

It was the eighth world title for Sweden, which had eight Olympic champions on its roster. In the Winter Olympics, Sweden beat Finland in the final.

No team had managed the elusive double in international hockey. There have been six previous times when the Olympics and world championships were played as separate tournaments in the same year.

"It's fun to be part of hockey history," coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said. "I think we played more or less a perfect game today. After taking a 2-0 lead we had a good control of the game."

In the bronze-medal game, defenseman Petteri Nummelin set up three goals to lead Finland over Canada 5-0.

Sweden was missing one of its top goal scorers, Mika Hannula (four goals), who was suspended one game after cross-checking Sidney Crosby into the boards in the semifinals against Canada.

But the team managed fine without him. Jesper Mattsson, Fredrik Emvall, Niklas Kronwall and veteran Jorgen Jonsson, playing in his 11th worlds, gave Sweden a 4-0 lead after the first two periods.

After a cautious start from both teams, Mattsson opened the scoring at 14:36 in the first period, knocking in a rebound over goalie Milan Hnilicka and into the net.

Emvall made it 2-0 just 37 seconds later, deflecting a shot past Hnilicka.

"World championship is really big back home in Sweden," Mattsson said. "I can't really understand it yet. Probably a couple of weeks before I do.

"It's been a terrific season for the Swedish team. I guess we've got to bounce back next year and try to win it again."

Kronwall gave Sweden a 3-0 lead 4:07 into the second period, skating unchallenged into the Czech end and beating Hnilicka with a backhander.

Kronwall, one of four players from the Detroit Red Wings on Sweden's roster, was selected as the tournament's most valuable player.

"We just felt like there was nothing to hold back," Kronwall said. "It was the last game of the season and the world championship final. You're not tired at all, you just try to put that away and go out there and work hard."

With the Czechs shorthanded, Sweden scored again at 17:01 with a one-timer by Jonsson.

The Finns earned their first world medal since winning silver in 2001. They got goals from Tomi Kallio, Olli Jokinen, Riku Hahl, Antti Miettinen and Jussi Jokinen.

Three of the goals came on the power play. Two goals came when Canada was two men short.

"It's always a disappointment, but it's a better way to finish the season with a win than a loss," Nummelin said. "You can ask the Canadian guys, and they probably don't feel that good right now."

Canada, which lost last year's final to the Czech Republic after winning back-to-back titles in 2003 and '04, failed to medal for the first time in four years.

Finland goalie Fredrik Norrena had 37 saves for his third shutout. Alex Auld, getting the start for Canada after relieving Marc Denis in the semifinals, made 28 saves.

"We played hard," said Crosby, one of the NHL's top rookies this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. "We just tried to stay patient and keep going but it seemed like as it went on we became more drained and it was hard to keep that level of intensity and we got a couple of bad breaks. It was hard just to keep that same level of emotion."