Sweden tops Czech Republic, takes bronze at hockey worlds

Sweden players celebrate their opening goal en route to winning the bronze medal at the world championships. 

Darko Bandic / AP

MINSK, Belarus -- Defending champion Sweden blanked the Czech Republic 3-0 Sunday to earn the bronze at the ice hockey world championship.

Joakim Lindstrom scored early and Simon Hjalmarsson netted another one in the opening period for Sweden to take control.

Mikael Backlund rounded off the win with a wrist shot past goaltender Alexander Salak in the third.

"We came here to win the gold," Lindstrom said. "That was our goal. But the competition is very, very hard, and all in all it was a pretty good tournament for us."

Sweden had to settle for the third-place game after a 3-1 loss to Russia in the semifinals.

The Czechs outshot Sweden 29-24 but failed to score for the second straight match after Finland blanked them 3-0 in Saturday's semis.

Goaltender Anders Nilsson saved all 24 shots for the shutout.

"He's been phenomenal, not just tonight, but the whole tournament," Lindstrom said. "From game one, he's been our backbone on this hockey team."

The Czechs -- the 2010 champions -- struggled in the preliminary round, recording three losses before recovering to eliminate the United States in the quarterfinals.

Veteran forward Jaromir Jagr said after the game it was his last with the national team -- although he will continue playing for his New Jersey Devils next season.

"It's not that I would think I'm not good enough for it," Jagr said. "But this is a different hockey than I play. My hockey doesn't fit this style."

The announcement came a year before the Czech Republic hosts the next worlds.

Russia faces Finland in the final later Sunday.

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