Third time Olympic charm for Sundin
STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

TURIN -- In all the celebration, Mats Sundin pointed up to the crowd, his eyes searching for his brother, but all he found was a fan with a flag. Actually two flags.

"I wanted to share this moment with him," Sundin said.

But a fan saw Sundin, thought he was pointing at him, and ran down the stairs of the Palasport Olimpico and handed him two Swedish flags.

It was then that Sundin, wearing the flag of his homeland as a Superman's cape, and his linemate Peter Forsberg, began skating around the ice carrying Swedish flags. A Stanley Cup-like ceremony with no Cup to pass around.

The Swedish players didn't seem to mind. The heaviest Olympic gold medals ever handed out took a huge weight off most of the players' shoulders. But none moreso than the veteran stars of Swedish hockey: Sundin the captain, Nicklas Lidstrom the defenceman, Peter Forsberg the glue.

It was no accident that the winning goal in Olympic hockey in the third period yesterday was Lidstrom from Forsberg and Sundin. Two of those men have Stanley Cup rings. Sundin, the Maple Leafs captain, now has everything but.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Sundin, after Sweden's dramatic 3-2 victory over Finland in the surprising gold-medal hockey game, the concluding event of the Games.

"I've been to two Olympics and had two very disappointing endings. This is amazing.

"The way everything worked out. The way we won ... It's kind of fitting Nicklas scored the winning goal. He was our best player all along."

It was kind of fitting for all the Swedish veterans who had lived through so much international turmoil, culminating in that painful loss four years ago to Belarus.

"There's been so much talk about the old guys of Swedish hockey," Fredrik Modin said. "I'm glad to see Mats with that big smile on his face. He hasn't had many opportunities to celebrate like this."

Sweden got to celebrate partly due to coach Bengt Gustafsson's manoeuvring. Gustafsson all but orchestrated a round-robin loss to Slovakia, which meant Sweden would play Switzerland in the first playoff game.

While he was widely criticized for making a mockery of the schedule, it's hard to question the end result.

The Swedes were fortunate once Forsberg, questionable before the Games because of a groin injury, was cleared to play.

"I talked to him by phone (before the tournament)," Sundin said. "I told him, even if you can't play, why don't you come over? We want you here. I told him, even if you can just play the last few games, that would be enough."

Forsberg, skating with Sundin and Modin, played more than the last few games and was a major contributor.

"That's what makes this so important," Lidstrom said. "This could be a great finale for all of us old guys. I'd rank it right up there with winning the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup is played every year. This is played every fourth year. That's what makes it so tough to win. I'm just glad we finally did it."