TURIN, Italy (AP) - Among the medal favorites in the Olympic hockey tournament - Canada, the Czechs, Sweden - perhaps one country is being left out.
Teemu Selanne scored twice and Finland turned loose its stable of front-line NHL scorers on Italy, winning 6-0 behind five power play goals Thursday for its second easy victory in as many days.
Saku Koivu, Jere Lehtinen, Jussi Jokinen and non-NHL player Ville Peltonen also scored for Finland, which has outscored Switzerland and Italy by a combined 11-0. Finland gets bigger challenges this weekend in round-robin play: the Czech Republic on Saturday and defending gold medalist Canada on Sunday.
"If you look at the lineups, they are better on paper but things are not decided on paper," Koivu said. "There are strange things that can happen in a tournament like this, and the team with the most talent doesn't always win."
In this game, at least, the team with the clear talent advantage was a winner.
Italy stayed in the game for more than a period, much as it did in a 7-2 loss Wednesday to Canada. A near-capacity crowd of 7,776 cheered anything approaching an Italian scoring chance and booed and whistled loudly whenever a Finn delivered a hard check.
But Italy could rely on aggressiveness and emotion only so long, as goalie Gunther Hell was forced to make 23 saves in the first period while facing 50 shots overall.
Lehtinen and Koivu scored off assists by Teppo Numminen in the opening 4 minutes of a four-goal second period, and Selanne got his two goals in the third period, including Finland's only even-strength goal.
Finland went 5-of-7 on the power play to support backup goalie Fredrik Norrena, who made 16 saves.
Selanne is convinced Finland can get a medal in Turin.
"I do not see why not," he said. "It just depends on who has the hottest goalie at the end."