EDMONTON -- The U.S. was finally able to solve Finland goalie Sami Aittokallio just 19 seconds into the third to pull into a 1-1 tie in the 2012 World Junior Championship contest at Rexall Place. Brandon Saad cashed in from in tight after retrieving a pass from Emerson Etem for his first goal of the tournament.
Despite being outshot, 24-9, through 40 minutes of play, Finland held a 1-0 lead over the United States.
The Finns opened a lead 1:21 into the second when Nashville Predators prospect Miika Salomaki controlled a pass from Joel Armia low in the right circle before roofing a shot over the fallen John Gibson. Less than a minute later, Aittokallio did the splits to deny Nick Bjugstad's quick release from left circle.
In their pursuit of squaring the contest, both T.J. Tynan of the U.S. and Simo-Pekka Riikola were send off for roughing behind the Finland cage at the 2:10 mark of the second. The penalties were the result of the U.S. forwards crashing the cage while Aittokallio was attempting to cover the puck.
Despite playing at a feverish pace in the opening 20 minutes, both teams had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
The Finns, coming off an 8-1 loss to Team Canada on Monday, were determined to play physical and fast against the bigger and stronger Americans. The U.S., meanwhile, seemed to take away much of the middle of the ice, content on allowing their opponent to work along the boards. The U.S. scored an 11-3 victory in its tournament opener on Monday against Denmark.
Each team was penalized twice, and the Finns actually had a 4-on-3 advantage for 56 seconds that was denied by the United States. The U.S. entered the game having allowed three power-play goals in three times short against Denmark.
Both teams were able to generate some quality scoring chances but couldn't solve the opposing goalie. Aittokallio, property of the Colorado Avalanche, had eight saves and Gibson turned aside four. The start for Gibson marked the first time since the 2010 WJC gold medal game against Team Canada that three-time WJC participant Jack Campbell didn't get the starting nod between the pipes.
Gibson, drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round last June, is making his first appearance in a WJC game.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale