TORONTO -- Team Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist returns to the lineup Tuesday against Team Finland after missing the first game of the World Cup of Hockey with the flu.
Team Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said the decision was made Monday night after Lundqvist, 34, participated in the team's full practice earlier in the day. After practice, Lundqvist said he felt optimistic he would be able to play, especially since this could be the last time he faces the rival Finns in international competition.
"In the end, every game is super important," Lundqvist said after practice. "You only have three games in the group, so it doesn't matter who you play you have to take it very seriously. As a group here, we look forward to the challenge. It's going to be a tough game for us. Personally, I just hope I'll be able to play, but in the end it's up to the coaches here to decide who's going to be out there. But I had a good practice today. I feel a lot better than yesterday, so I'm optimistic."
In Lundqvist's absence, backup Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves en route to a 2-1 win over Russia on Sunday.
During the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Rask missed the semifinal game against Sweden because he was sick. Finland lost that game 2-1 and backup netminder Kari Lehtonen finished with 23 saves. Rask returned for the bronze medal game and led the team to victory over the U.S. On Monday, he said playing against Sweden is something he's been looking forward to if he got the nod.
"Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely," he said. "As a goalie, as an athlete, you thrive on important games in important situations. You want to perform at a high level when it's really needed. It's against Sweden so it's a big thing back home. It's a big game for our team and you don't want to look back at what's happened before. We have to focus on the moment and tomorrow's against Sweden, and if I play I'll just try to be at my best and feel good about myself."