Finland's Saku Koivu reacts as Sweden celebrates after beating them 3-2 in the 2006 Winter Olympics men's hockey gold medal game Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006, in Turin, Italy. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
TURIN -- Teemu Selanne wiped away tears as Team Sweden celebrated.
The first loss cut the deepest.
Unbeaten through the Olympic Games tournament, the Finns came up short and had to settle for silver after a 3-2 loss to Sweden in the final.
After tying it up 2-2 in the second period, the Finns couldn't come back from an early third period goal by defenceman Nik Lidstrom.
"It's hard to say right now that this was a great achievement," Finland defenceman Toni Lydman said. "Maybe tomorrow it will be different. We had such a good tournament and to come that close.
"We played so well throughout and we didn't have our best game today. Yes, Sweden played well, but we didn't do what we were capable of doing and that's probably what hurts the most right now. We just weren't able to get it done. The guys played well."
The Finns battled the odds to get to this point. They had seven NHL players decline invitations before the tournament began and then lost Vancouver Canucks defenceman Sami Salo with a shoulder injury.
Goalie Antero Niittymaki allowed only five goals in the first eight games and then gave up three yesterday. No, they weren't his fault, but the effort was far short.
"This is a proud moment, but it's also a tough one," Finnish captain Saku Koivu said. "There are moments like this where's it's tough to see the positive right now. For some reason, we didn't have a our best game. Sweden is a veteran team. They just seemed to handle it better."