VANCOUVER -- Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone scored the game-opening goal Friday night in Team USA's dominant 6-1 win against Finland in the semifinal of the Olympic hockey tournament at Canada Hockey Place.
The Americans will play for a gold medal in Sunday's game against either Canada or Slovakia.
Malone got the ball rolling with what is easily the biggest goal of his life. Amazingly, it might also have been his easiest. Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff rushed out of the net to play an American dump-in, but was pressured by Phil Kessel into making a bad play with the puck. Malone intercepted Kiprusoff's clearing attempt and fired the puck into an empty net.
Just like that, the rout was on for the Americans, who scored all six goals in the game's first 12:46.
Afterward, Malone stopped by to chat exclusively with NHL.com.
NHL.com -- That puck ends up on your stick there in the first period. What are you thinking?
Malone -- Put it in the net. I got up the ice as fast as I can and I'm not sure if he fanned on it or what, but I was happy to see it come my way. I was just happy to put it in the net there.
NHL.com -- Did you expect such a dominant start on the scoreboard?
Malone -- No. You are expecting a nail-biter right to the end. Especially the way they play as a group of five on the ice, I think it was key for us to come out with everything and cause some turnovers. That's what we have to do next game as well.
NHL.com -- Was it nice to see that killer instinct from your team after so many close games?
Malone -- Yeah, it was nice to breathe a little bit. Instead of, like I said, nail-biting all the way to the end. I think we played solid 60 minutes where we just played smart throughout the rest of the game. Now, we're all looking forward to the next challenge.
NHL.com -- Has it hit you that you are playing for gold?
Malone -- Oh yeah. Even after the onslaught, you look up and there is so much time left. You don't want to think about it too much. But we have worked hard as a group since the summer and to have this opportunity come Sunday is going to be unbelievable.