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Team USA bloodied but stays undefeated

Blood on the ice, anger in the air, the United States and Sweden went at each other as if gold were at stake.

They left Monday night tied 3-3, nothing resolved but the order for the Winter Games medal round, and the bitterness remained.

This was no mere tuneup for the big games to come. It was payback by the world champion Swedes for the bruising they took in a 3-2 training game just before the Olympics. It was also a test for the Americans, the chance to find out just how tough, just how good they could be.

In the end, they both had reasons to smile and seethe.

The Swedes were happy to salvage a tie with three goals in the final period, the last with 21 seconds left on a lucky carom off an American skate. The undefeated U.S. team was pleased to avoid a loss, letting it begin medal play as the top seed in its group against 2-3 France, rather than 4-1 Czechoslovakia.

The United States' 4-0-1 start matches the record the Miracle on Ice club brought into the 1980 medal round. The only blemish in '80 also was a tie with Sweden.

Still upset about what he thought was a flagrant hit by Sweden's Mats Naslund, which gave U.S. defenseman Greg Brown a concussion 2:04 into the game, U.S. coach Dave Peterson refused to shake hands with Swedish assistant coach Curt Lundmark.

Lundmark was equally upset at Peterson, saying the U.S. coach swore at the Swedes between periods.

The incidents punctuated an exciting game that included 45 saves by U.S. goalie Ray LeBlanc and a tying goal by Sweden's Mikael Johansson off Team USA's Dave Tretowicz's skate.

Lundmark said he didn't have anything against the U.S. players.

"It's against Peterson. I think he is not a proud member of the coaches," he said. "After a game, you have to shake hands. I have been coaching since 1974. Such things that happened in this game have happened before. But after the game, you have to shake hands and be friends.

"This isn't war, guys, this isn't war. But almost."

It sure seemed like an enemy attackwhen Naslund, who spent eight seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1988 as the NHL's most gentlemanly player, took a running start and a flying leap at Brown behind the U.S. goal. The sound of Brown hitting the glass reverberated through the arena, and the two-time Olympian fell to the ice face first. Brown was unconscious for three minutes and was taken to the hospital in nearby Moutiers with a concussion, a broken nose and a gash on the forehead that required 12 stitches.

Naslund received a major charging penalty and was ejected.

"You better take a look at the replay to see what a dirty shot it was," Peterson said. "We're going to show the tape to the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation), and we'd like to see him get thrown out of the tournament."

For all their rough play, though, the Swedes couldn't solve the American goalie for more than 46 minutes.

LeBlanc was instrumental in holding a U.S. lead built on goals by Clark Donatelli, Ted Donato and Marty McInnis. It could have been more, but the United States failed to score on a five-minute power play, courtesy of Naslund's hit.

LeBlanc has played every minute of the tournament and has allowed only seven goals. He had a scoreless string of 136 minutes, 39 seconds before Sweden rallied on late goals by Tommy Sjodin, Hakan Loob and Johansson. They were the first third-period goals allowed by LeBlanc in the Olympics.