Tonight’s matchup between Canada and Finland featured the two dominant teams in Group B play in St. Petersburg.
Finland earned a decisive 4-0 victory, scoring three goals in the second period and never looking back.
Finland finishes atop the group and will now face Denmark in the quarter-finals here at Yubileiny Arena on Thursday.
Canada loses its first game of the tournament that snaps a string of sixteen straight wins going back to the 2015 World Championship.
“Our goal is to get better as the tournament goes on and that was our game plan tonight,” Mikko Koivu said. “We knew it was going to be a big challenge, if not the biggest challenge so far in the tournament. If you start to think about the result before you play the game, usually that doesn’t work. We wanted to play a good game. We wanted to raise our game, and I thought we did. That’s a good sign. Again, it’s just a good first step.”
This game was expected to be a test for Finland’s young forwards Patrik Laine and Sebastian Aho. Both would get involved and have among the best early scoring chances for their team.
Aho sent a shot on goal that was tipped by Mika Pyörälä and changed direction to hit the right post. Patrik Laine had two crucial chances, one shot was saved the other a deft pass from Alexander Barkov that sent him in but his forehand shot just went wide.
At 19:33 Leo Komarov would draw a roughing penalty on Brad Marchand to activate the Finnish power play. Coming into the game, Finland’s power play was ranked tops in the tournament having scored ten goals with the man advantage. But they would be facing the top ranked penalty kill team in Canada.
For only the second time in this tournament, Canada would not get on the board first. Starting goaltender Cam Talbot tried to clear the puck from behind his net when Mikko Rantanen stole it and tried to find Tomi Sallinen. When that didn’t work, Rantanen got the puck back and found Tommi Kivistö at the point. Kivistö sent a low shot on goal that fooled Talbot and went in under his pad.
With Canada working deep in the Finland zone late in the second, a play was broken up and Leo Komarov took the puck up ice. He sent a slapshot on net that was stopped by Talbot but the puck squirted through and trickled over the line for a goal with 3:57 remaining in the second period.
Then with 1:10 remaining in the period, Finland continued the onslaught. Pyörälä broke up a play in the neutral zone and found Aho. His shot was initially saved but Pyörälä was there on the doorstep to stuff it in.
In the opening minutes of the final period, Jarno Koskiranta took advantage of a big rebound to make it 4-0.
Canada added some extra pressure thereafter in an attempt to break the shutout. Taylor Hall had his best scoring chances of the game during a shift mid-period. Hall was held without a goal for the first time. Mikko Koskinen got the start in goal for the Finns and came away with a 21 save shutout.
“He played well tonight, there’s no doubt about it,” Hall said of Koskinen. “I think we could have gotten some more traffic on him and made his job a little bit harder. But certainly he played well.”
Finland’s performance was nothing short of dominant. They capitalized on their chances and built an insurmountable lead over a Canadian team that is talented and seemed to be hitting its stride leading up to this game.
Canada will play Sweden on Thursday. They will have to regroup and make some adjustments based on the result here tonight.
“We just didn’t play as well as we could have,” Hall said. “You gotta give them credit. They played very well tonight. They seemed to play very passive, and we fed into that at times. We’ll be better from it.”
From here on out, winner takes all in this tournament.
13:21 – PEN – Brassard, slashing
19:33 – PEN – Marchand, roughing
26:10 – GOAL – Kivistö (Rantanen)
27:57 – PEN – McDavid, tripping
36:03 – GOAL – Komarov (Granlund)
38:50 – GOAL – Pyörälä (Aho)
42:32 – GOAL – Koskiranta (Pyörälä)
48:21 – PEN – Koivu, hooking
50:09 – PEN – Pihlstrom, roughing
50:09 – PEN – Scheifele, roughing
52:45 – PEN – Gallagher, tripping
57:00 – PEN – Perry, tripping
W: Koskinen (21-21)
L: Talbot (15-19)
SHOTS ON GOAL
5+7+7 = 19
8+5+8 = 21
Goaltenders: Mikko Koskinen, Juuse Saros. Defence: Juuso Hietanen, Topi Jaakola, Tommi Kivistö, Lasse Kukkonen (A), Esa Lindell, Atte Ohtamaa, Ville Pokka. Forwards: Sebastian Aho, Aleksander Barkov, Mikael Granlund, Jussi Jokinen (A), Mikko Koivu (C), Leo Komarov, Jarno Koskiranta, Patrik Laine, Jani Lajunen, Antti Pihlström, Mika Pyörälä, Mikko Rantanen, Tomi Sallinen.
Goaltenders: Calvin Pickard, Cam Talbot. Defence: Cody Ceci, Matt Dumba, Ryan Ellis, Mike Matheson, Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Chris Tanev. Forwards: Derick Brassard, Max Domi, Matt Duchene (A), Brendan Gallagher, Taylor Hall, Boone Jenner, Brad Marchand, Connor McDavid, Ryan O’Reilly (A), Corey Perry (C), Sam Reinhart, Mark Scheifele, Mark Stone.
(+ 2 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (FIN vs. CAN)
CAN 11-1 FIN – 03/10/1951 – WC – Paris
|Previous IHLC Meeting (FIN vs. CAN)
FIN 3-2 CAN – 05/22/2014 – WC – Minsk
|Last IHLC Game
CAN 4-0 FRA – 05/16/2016 – WC – Saint Petersburg
|Next IHLC Game
FIN 5-1 DEN – 05/19/2016 – WC – Saint Petersburg