Finland notched another high-scoring victory to open the Vancouver Olympics, this time shutting out Germany 5-0 to improve to 2-0 in the Preliminary Round, and retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Finland’s special teams were the big story in this game, with the power play going 4 for 6 on the night, an unprecedented 67% success rate that accounted for 80% of the goals for the Leijonat. Tuomo Ruutu started things off with a tip-in of a Janne Niskala that parked on the German goal line, knocking in the loose puck past German goalie Dimitri Pätzold for the 1-0 lead. Germany held the Finns to just eight shots in the first, while Germany netted six shots, unable to beat Finnish netminder Niklas Bäckström in the opening frame.
Almost exactly 20 minutes following the opening Ruutu goal, Kimmo Timonen struck again for the Leijonat, chipping in an Olli Jokinen pass from the corner in front of the German net past Pätzold for the 2-0 lead. Timonen would convert again for Finland’s third straight power play goal twelve minutes later, wiring in a point shot that beat Pätzold blocker side for the 3-0 lead. The Finns outshot the Träger der Adler 13-8 in the second, but were stretched due to the trio of penalties taken in the second period.
Following the lead of younger brother Tuomo, Jarkko Ruutu scored Finland’s first even-strength goal 7:10 into the third, knocking in a Ville Peltonen rebound while Pelton and Pätzold were tied up in front of the German goal, leaving the net wide open for the easy goal. And less than two minutes later, Joni Pitkänen struck for the fourth time on the Finnish power play, blasting a one-timer feed from Hagman off the post and past Pätzold for the 5-0 lead, the final score at the end of regulation. Bäckström stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout, while Timonen finished the night with two goals, and Hagman with two assists.
With the victory, Finland retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship they brought to Vancouver after winning it from Russia at December’s Channel One Cup, and retaining in their opening game in Vancouver against Belarus. Finland, in their 39th IHLC reign, last faced Germany over the IHLC for the first time since the 2001 World Championship Quarterfinals, where Finland retained the title in a 4-1 win. Finland next faces their rivals Sweden in the Preliminary Round finale, with important medal round standings and the IHLC in play.
03:27 – PEN – Wolf, holding
04:21 – PP GOAL – T. Ruutu (Niskala, Hagman)
06:16 – PEN – T. Ruutu, tripping
08:06 – PEN – Lepistö, holding
22:10 – PEN – Greilinger, tripping
24:04 – PP GOAL – Timonen (S. Koivu, Jokinen)
34:24 – PEN – Hecht, slashing
36:03 – PP GOAL – Timonen (Salo, Selänne)
37:52 – PEN – Hospelt, hooking
47:10 – GOAL – J. Ruutu (Peltonen, Kapanen)
48:52 – PEN – Tripp, holding
49:01 – PP GOAL – Pitkänen (Hagman)
54:26 – PEN – Ficenec, hooking
57:34 – PEN – J. Ruutu, holding
W: Bäckström (24-24)
L: Pätzold (30-35)
SHOTS ON GOAL
8+13+14 = 35
6+8+10 = 24
Goaltenders: Niklas Bäckström, Antero Niittymäki. Defence: Lasse Kukkonen, Sami Lepistö, Toni Lydman, Janne Niskala, Joni Pitkänen, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen (A). Forwards: Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Hagman, Jarkko Immonen, Olli Jokinen, Niko Kapanen, Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu (C), Jere Lehtinen, Antti Miettinen, Ville Peltonen, Jarkko Ruutu, Tuomo Ruutu, Teemu Selänne (A).
Goaltenders: Thomas Greiss, Dimitri Pätzold. Defence: Michael Bakos, Sven Butenschön, Christian Ehrhoff, Jakub Ficenec, Korbinian Holzer, Christopher Schmidt, Dennis Seidenberg (A), Alexander Sulzer. Forwards: Sven Felski (A), Marcel Goc, Thomas Greilinger, Jochen Hecht, Kai Hospelt, Manuel Klinge, Marcel Müller, Travis Mulock, André Rankel, Marco Sturm (C), John Tripp, Michael Wolf.