U.S. will face Slovakia for bronze

Updated: May 8, 2004, 8:20 PM ET
Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Dick Tarnstrom scored 18 seconds in and Sweden beat the United States 3-2 Saturday, setting up a rematch of last year's final against Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

Canada, which beat Sweden on a disputed overtime goal in 2003, edged Slovakia 2-1 earlier Saturday on Shawn Horcoff's third-period goal. The United States hoped to create the first all-North American final in 54 years, but instead will face Slovakia on Sunday in the bronze-medal game.

"I think it's going to take a lot hard work," New York Rangers goalie Mike Dunham said. "We are going to have to skate well, we're going to have to dump the puck in and get a good forecheck going."

Tarnstrom, who this season became the first defenseman to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins in scoring, netted the second-fastest goal at the start of a game in the tournament.

"They seemed to work harder and there was more effort out there," Dunham said. "We still have a chance to win a medal."

Dunham got the start over Ty Conklin, who shut out the Czech Republic in overtime and a shootout Thursday in the quarterfinals. Conklin, of the Edmonton Oilers, is 3-0-1 in the tournament.

Jonas Hoglund tipped in Michael Nylander's pass to give Sweden a 2-0 lead with 1:02 left in the period as Mike Grier served a double minor for high-sticking.

It was Hoglund's third goal in two games against the United States. He scored twice in a 3-1 victory in the qualifying round.

Richard Park of the Minnesota Wild cut the deficit to 2-1 at 11:06 of the second period when he shoveled a backhander past the stick of goalie Henrik Lundqvist -- a Rangers prospect.

But P.J. Axelsson of the Boston Bruins restored Sweden's two-goal lead with another power-play goal with 16 seconds remaining in the period. He beat Dunham with a wrister from between the circles after a perfect pass from Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.

Lidstrom, the NHL's top defenseman the past three seasons, joined Sweden for the semifinals along with Colorado's Peter Forsberg after the Red Wings and Avalanche were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"We better make sure we play solid and play the way Sweden is supposed to play and make no mistakes," Forsberg said of the gold-medal matchup against Canada. "They have a good team and four good lines. Definitely, it will be revenge. Last year, we were very close."

Forsberg, the NHL MVP last year, went pointless against the United States.

"We were up two goals most of the game and kind of sat back and waited for them," Forsberg said.

While Sweden was effective with the man advantage, the Americans failed on four power plays.

Jeff Halpern of the Washington Capitals made it 3-2 when Chris Drury set him up with 36 seconds left. The Americans pulled Dunham for an extra attacker 39 seconds earlier.

Canada, which has reached the semifinals eight times since 1992, beat previously unbeaten Slovakia with Horcoff's goal, which also was disputed. Canada will keep its No. 1 ranking regardless of Sunday's outcome and will be the top seed at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Horcoff scored 6:10 into the final period. Slovakia's Jan Lasak came out of the crease, swinging behind the net to send the puck out. But he was downed by Rob Niedermayer's stick, when the Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward swooped in to chase him.

The sprawling Lasak was unable to get back in position in time. Horcoff took a pass from Steve Staios and swept the puck from inside the crease, under pressure, into the unprotected net.

The Slovaks contended Niedermayer tripped the vulnerable Lasak. In an uncharacteristic display of anger, Lasak smashed his stick on the crossbar when the referee allowed the goal.

"I didn't really nick him at all," Niedermayer said, though replays seemed to show him hitting Lasak's left pad.

The video replay was shown repeatedly on the jumbo screen as Slovak fans screamed in protest.

"I was in full motion and he pushed my leg in front so basically he was checking me," Lasak said. "There should've been a call against the player."

Slovakia opened the scoring 10 seconds into the second period when Martin Strbak sent a sizzling slap shot from behind the blue line that hit the crossbar behind Roberto Luongo. As the Florida Panthers goalie came out of the net, Miroslav Satan came in and sent puck between his pads.

Canada tied it at 12:18 when Danny Briere's slap shot from the top of the right circle went through traffic and under Lasak's glove.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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