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Olympic replay: Finland vs. Slovakia

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
February 27, 2010

Salo

FINLAND 5 SLOVAKIA 3

FIRST PERIOD

If you’re looking for breathtaking hockey, Canada Hockey Place is not currently the place to be.

Finland and Slovakia are cautiously out of the gates; neither team is giving up or gaining too much.

It’s no surprise, then, that this action packed adventure features only one goal.

With Zigmund Palffy – yes, he still plays – in the box for holding, Sami Salo uncorked his canon and zipped a shot past Jaroslav Halak, who actually tried to get a glove on it.

Better luck next time.

Shots are 13-5 Finland after 20 minutes, although Slovakia had a few scoring chances. Miroslav Satan got a puck in close after some dizzying moves, but his shot was off the mark.

Do you like vanilla ice cream?

If so, this period was for you.

I’m hoping for sprinkles in the second.

SECOND PERIOD

For the opening 10 minutes of the second, I would have traded lives with a baseball player who just admitted he’d used steroids. That’s how mundane the hockey was.

Pavol Demitra helped change that.

With Slovakia on a power play, Demitra took possession of the puck inside the left faceoff circle, he then waited, and waited, and waited, until he found an opening. That came in the form of Marian Gaborik in the slot, he took a pass and wristed the puck over Miikka Kiprusoff’s shoulder.

The good news about the goal was that it gave me something to write about and it ensures one more goal is scored this game.

What a thriller!

Demitra was actually the catalyst of the go-ahead goal for Slovakia as with four seconds left in a 5-on-3, he set up a three way passing play. Demitra, still in the left faceoff circle, his Michal Handzus in the middle, he fed Marian Hossa who missed the pass, but the puck hit his skate and he was able to regain it and tap it past Kipper.

You want more Demitra? You got it.

Already leading the Olympics in scoring, Demo added a goal to his three-point game. Fifty seconds into a four minute high-sticking penalty to Branko Radivojevic, Marian Hossa and Demitra went in on a shorthanded 2-on-1 against Tuomo Ruutu. Hossa feathered a pass across and Demitra snapped it home.

Great to have some sprinkles in the second, but I still say the best part of the period was a tweet by my ami Francois Gagnon from La Presse: “I thought this was the bronze medal game. Not a game involving players cast in bronze. God it's boring.”

Classic.

Not to be forgotten was Mark Messier. He’s in the house tonight and the reception he got from the crowd really made him feel loved.

They booed and rightfully so.

It’s 3-1 Slovakia after forty-minutes.

THIRD PERIOD

No more Florida Panthers hockey in the third, Finland scored 5:06 in to cut Slovakia’s lead to 3-2.

After Kimmo Timonen threw a puck on goal from the point on the man advantage, Niklas Hagman deployed a tip I’m sure he practices a lot – off his sleeve and in.

That opened the flood gates with Finland scoring two goals two minutes apart to take a 4-3 lead.

The vanilla game was chocolate marshmallow flavour in a waffle cone in the blink of an eye.

Olli Jokinen was the man behind both Finnish goals; the first a wrist shot that caught Halak going the wrong way, the second a breakaway backhand through the legs of the Slovak keeper.

Both teams continued pressing in this suddenly frantic game, but time was working against the Slovaks.

With 3:18 to play, a window opened when Joni Pitkanen was called for tripping Marian Hossa as he sprinted to the net.

Despite setting up in the zone twice and having some good looks at the net, Kiprusoff had the last laugh. He made a few great saves, including a diving glove stop on Zednik at the side of the goal.

Slovakia didn’t score on the power play, but Demitra almost did from the point. His shot with 1:11 to play hit the right post and stayed out.

With Halak on the bench, Valtteri Filppula put the puck in to secure a 5-3 win and bronze for Finland.

What an amazing finish to a game I wrote off early.

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