(Reuters) - Russia came from behind to earn a 3-1 win over holders Sweden in the semi-finals of the world ice hockey championship on Saturday and will meet Finland, who overcame the Czech Republic 3-0, in the gold medal match.
Goals from Sergei Plotnikov, Sergei Shirokov and Anton Belov secured victory for the undefeated Russians who fell behind to Oscar Moller’s strike after 19 seconds in Minsk, Belarus.
“Our team has character,” Russia coach Oleg Znarok said after they won seven games in the preliminary round, all in regulation time, and claimed a 3-0 quarter-final win over France, scoring a total of 37 goals and conceding eight.
Finland went through to Sunday’s final at the Minsk Arena after their points leader Jori Lehtera scored twice and Jarkko Immonen added a goal and an assist.
“Tonight was a perfect game and everything was under control,” said Finland center Petri Kontiola. “We have to stay out of the penalty box, especially against Russia.”
Russia have won three golds since 2008, having last triumphed in 2012, while Finland were champions in 2011.
It will be the first Russia-Finland world final since the International Ice Hockey Federation introduced the playoff system in 1992. The Czechs will face Sweden for the bronze.
Writing by Dimitriy Rogovitskiy; editing by Ken Ferris