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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.

Friday, 02.14.2014 / 2:50 PM ET / News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer
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Finland Moves To 2-0 In Group B

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 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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