Jarko Immonen’s second period goal put the Finns ahead to stay as they slipped past Kazakhstan 4-3.
Finland was playing to stay alive and in contention in the hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Championships. With the win the Finns now have 11 points in Group B.
Finland has to wait to see what happens later tonight and tomorrow before their fate is decided. No matter the outcome in tonight’s Latvia-Belarus game, Finland will remain in contention and all eyes will be focused on tomorrow’s tilts.
What is known is that Switzerland is officially out of contention.
Kazakhstan was officially relegated with their loss to Switzerland two nights ago and playing only for pride and possible spoilers.
Kazakhstan started the game slowly, unable to get a shot on goal until almost the midway point of the period. Finland kept the bulk of the action in the opposing zone and the pressure on starter Alexei Ivanov.
Finland took a 1-0 lead when defenseman Olli Palola scored with a slapshot at 7:53. Jori Lehtera was responsible for getting things started when he drew a penalty on Alexei Litvinenko. On the power play, Lehtera found Palola with a pinpoint pass that allowed for an uncontested shot on goal. With the goalie slow to react, Lehtera has plenty of time to score.
Despite taking the lead, Kazakhstan eventually found its stride and assumed command of the game in the second half of the period.
Kazakhstan would get on the board to equalize the score when Yevgeni Rymarev netted his second goal in as many games. Then 1:21 later, Fyodor Polishuk gave his team the lead.
With the man advantage, Rymarev skated with the puck behind the Finnish goal then found Polishuk cruising towards the net. Polishuk had enough time and room after getting the puck to send it past Pekka Rinne.
It was the first lead Kazakhstan would have in a game since the second period of their game against Team USA on Friday.
In the waning minutes of the period, Kazakhstan continued to press and found shots on net but the final goal of the period would go to the Finns.
With 42.7 seconds remaining in the period, Lehtera slipped the puck past Ivanov Finland toed it up 21 scored on an out of position Ivanov.
Lehtera has had plenty of opportunities in the last two games and has been around the puck. He’s been especially effective on the power play and usually the catalyst in making things happen.
Olli Jokinen’s goal in the second was one of the more unfortunate scores of the tournament. The Finnish captain’s shot hit Alexei Litvinenko in the face and was redirected into the goal. Jokinen’s goal gave the Finns a lead they would gradually add on to over the rest of the game
Kazakhstan did not cease their efforts. They continued working to get a third goal. Rymarev had the best of chances when the Finnish defenseman fanned on the puck. Rymarev collected the turnover all alone in front. He tried to make a move to fake out Rinne but the Finnish netminder handled it calmly, making an outstretched save.
In the final 2.7 seconds Finland came back the other way as Immonen scored between two defensemen. Olli Jokinen and Pekka Jormakka notched assists.
Kazakhstan would not go away. They scored with 29 seconds remaining to cut the score to 4-3 but that’s where their good fortune would end.
The game marked the end of the line for Kazakhstan. They were winless in seven games that included two overtime losses. Three games they scored first and generally kept their game scores competitive. Only their games against Russia and Switzerland were the Kazakhs dominated.
Finland now sits and waits to see what their fate will be for the remainder of this tournament.