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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 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 46 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 46 7 21 6 28
J. Huberdeau 43 9 17 1 26
J. Jokinen 45 4 21 -3 25
B. Boyes 44 10 12 2 22
J. Hayes 38 13 7 1 20
S. Bergenheim 35 8 9 2 17
A. Barkov 35 5 10 -5 15
B. Campbell 46 3 11 -1 14
D. Kulikov 41 1 13 -3 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 18 11 8 .920 2.42
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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