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Olympic replay: USA vs. Finland

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
February 26, 2010

Kesler

UNITED STATES 6 FINLAND 1

Even though Canada doesn't play until the late game, Canada Hockey Place is packed with red and white jerseys. The Americans don't have much of a presence yet, while the Finns have some blue and white sprinkled throughout.

The US and Finland have met 11 times in the Olympics with the Americans holding a 6-3-2 edge. One of the Finnish wins came in the quarterfinal of the 2006 Games. Finland eventually lost to Sweden in the gold medal game.

FIRST PERIOD

With the two best goaltenders of the tournament squaring off – Finland’s Miikka Kiprusoff leads in save percentage at .946 and Ryan Miller leads in goals against average at 1.25 – it was a bit of a shock to see three goals on the board before the game was 11 minutes old.

That was the case with Kiprusoff allowed four goals on seven shots before getting the hook.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Americans were on the board 2:04 into the period on a major gaff by Kipprusoff when he played the puck off a dump to avoid Phil Kessel being in alone. Too bad he played it to Ryan Malone, who in turn snapped it into the empty net.

That was the beginning of the end for Kipper and the Finns.

Kiprusoff allowed three more goals to finish with only three saves as Zach Parise, Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane scored before the Calgary Flames keeper got the hook.

In came Niklas Backstrom.

In went two more goals, 15 seconds apart.

On the third and fourth shots against, Backstrom couldn’t handle a wrister from Kane and a snap shot from Paul Statsny.

All those goals and not one point for Ryan Kesler, but he was a plus-2.

The undefeated Americans look good, real good.

FANS FANS IN THE STANDS

I’m not anti-American, I swear. But the US fans are not representing their undefeated team very well…again. This is the second straight game that the Yankees have treated their team’s must win contest like a mid-summer scrimmage.

The vibe in the building is an odd one, it’s eerily quiet and there are few too many empty seats…again.

Will it take a Canada/US gold medal game to finally get a rise out of the Americans?

I have noticed one American giving it his best cheering effort. Vince Vaughn is in the house and he’s getting rowdy. He seems to agree with Canadian beer. What a guy!

SECOND PERIOD

I still can’t believe the bus bringing Finland to the rink today overturned injuring everyone and forcing a mini-minor Timbits team to dress in their place.

What are the odds.

Still no sign of the Finns, silver medal finishers at the 2006 Games, as Sami Salo and friends are being schooled by an overpowering American squad.

Not much action in the second. Jarkko Ruutu was given two for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct; the Americans didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Kesler continues to have a solid outing. He had the best US scoring chance when he wiffed on a one-timer after a Kane shot was off the target and he prevented a possible goal with a great defensive play to knock the puck off the stick of Niklas Hagman in close.

Miller has faced 10 shuts so far, but none that a two-by-four dangling from a string from the crossbar couldn’t have prevented.

This snoozer was over long ago, the only question that remains is if Vince Vaughn will do the wave next time it flies around the arena. He passed on it the first go-round.

Apparently I should work for TMZ.

THIRD PERIOD

An unnecessary final 20 minutes began with Finland the USA trading penalties; Backstrom got an interference call for shoveling the lost mitt of Kane behind the Finnish goal, Malone then sat for high-sticking.

Nothing changed on the scoreboard as a result of the infractions.

There was a change in goal for the Americans midway through the period as Tim Thomas came in to see his first Olympic action. Nice move by the American coaching staff.

Miller finished the game stopping 18-of-18 shots for his second straight blanking after beating the Swiss 2-0 in his last outing.

Thomas’ day wasn’t quite as solid as Finland scored its lone goal of the game with just over five minutes left. Antti Miettinen’s shot from just inside the left faceoff dot hit a body in front and deflected over Thomas’ arm.

Nice to see Finland get on the board, but it was far from enough to bump the Americans.

The United States will face the winner of Canada vs. Slovakia from later today, a rematch Vince Vaughn wants.

Vaughn was interviewed on the jumbotron during the second intermission and he finished up his gabbing with Marc Denis by saying that he’d love a rematch with the Canadians, especially because “we already beat them once, I think we can do it again.”

Thems fightin’ words.

So was the WE WANT CANADA chant that feebly rang as the USA iced its win.

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