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News

Finland Moves To 2-0 In Group B

Finland and Canada to meet on Sunday in final preliminary game with automatic bid on the line.

Friday, 02.14.2014 / 2:50 PM / News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer
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Finland Moves To 2-0 In Group B
Finland and Canada to meet on Sunday in final preliminary game with automatic bid on the line.

SOCHI -- After two games that were nothing more than tune-ups against two of the bottom-tier teams in the tournament, Finland will be able to test its medal chops against one of the big boys Sunday.

The Finns beat Norway 6-1 on Friday at Shayba Arena, setting up a Sunday night showdown with Canada, with the winner clinching first place in Group B and securing an automatic berth into the quarterfinals in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The loser can also receive an automatic berth into the quarterfinals or get a better draw in the qualification round, but it could depend on goal differential.

After two games, the Finns are plus-9; the Canadians are plus-8.

"These first two games we were expecting to win, and I was pretty happy that we didn't have to grind all 60 minutes [Friday night]," Finland captain Teemu Selanne said. "We got goals right away and could kind of cruise around the rest of the game, but Sunday is Canada, and it's going to be a good challenge for our team.

"They have four all-star lines, so it's not going to be easy. We all know those guys. We play against them every day back home. It's going to be hard, but on the same hand it's going to be a challenge. We need a tough game now. It's a big ice surface, so hopefully that's going to be an advantage for us."

The game Sunday (noon ET, CBC, USA) will also be the first in the Olympics between Finland and Canada since 2006, when the Finns handed the Canadians a 2-0 loss in group play. Finland went on to capture the silver medal in Turin by beating the United States and Russia before losing to Sweden in the gold-medal game. Canada finished sixth.

"We are the underdogs, absolutely," Finland coach Erkka Westerlund said.

Selanne's goal 5:46 into the first period not only gave Finland a 1-0 lead, it was also historic. The 43-year-old Anaheim Ducks forward became the oldest player to score a goal in an Olympic game, and he now has 21 Olympic goals.

"Having that record makes me feel very old, but I'm just happy that the older guys can still rock," Selanne, who is appearing in his sixth Olympics, said.

Finland's younger guys can too. Defenseman Olli Maatta, who had a goal and two assists Friday to give him four points in two games at his first Olympics, is tied for the tournament lead in points with Canada's Patrick Marleau and Finnish teammate Sami Vatanen.

"For sure it's something I never really thought of, but I don't really take pride in my scoring ability," Maatta said. "I take pride in my defensive game and making the easy pass for the forwards."

He did that on both of Lauri Korpikoski's goals Friday night. Olli Jokinen chipped in with a goal and an assist. Tuomo Ruutu and goalie Kari Lehtonen each had two assists.

Lehtonen, who was the backup Thursday to Tuukka Rask in Finland's 8-4 win against Austria, made 20 saves.

Westerlund would not say which goalie will start against Canada. Antti Niemi, who hasn't played in the tournament, is also an option.

"I know who the goalie is going to be, but you don't," Westerlund said, smiling.

The Finns had a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission as Korpikoski scored on a scramble in front of the crease 65 seconds after Selanne's goal, and Jori Lehtera shot a knuckler past Norway goalie Lars Haugen with 2:39 left in the period

Haugen was benched in favor of Lars Volden to start the second period, but Volden gave up goals to Korpikoski and Jokinen separated by 3:23 in the middle of the period.

Norway got one back 61 seconds into the third period on a one-timer from Per-Age Skroder, but Maatta capped the scoring with 2:19 remaining.

The only problem for the Finns is that Florida Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov had to leave the game early in the third period with a lower-body injury. Westerlund was not sure of the severity of the injury when he was asked about it after the game.

Barkov had been playing center on Finland's top line between Selanne and Mikael Granlund, but with or without him the Finns have one day to prepare for their biggest test of the tournament so far.

They tuned up against Austria and Norway. It's time to find out how strong the engine is against Canada.

"They are probably favored to win this tournament, but we like our chances," Finnish forward Jussi Jokinen said. "We are ready for that challenge on Sunday."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 5 6 2 .891 2.98
 
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