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Preview: Finland, Canada to decide top spot in Group B

by John Kreiser / Los Angeles Kings


When: Sunday, 9am PT (USA, CBC)

Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome

What's at stake: The two best teams in Group B meet, with the winner guaranteed a bye into the quarterfinals. The loser could get a pass through to the final eight if it's the best of the three second-place finishers. Neither team had much trouble beating Austria and Norway in its first two games.

Each team has to make a decision about who will start in goal. Canada has surrendered one goal in two games and got a shutout from Roberto Luongo in a 6-0 win against Austria after Carey Price was in goal for a 3-1 win against Norway. Tuukka Rask had his struggles in Finland's 8-4 win against Austria; Kari Lehtonen was sharp in a 6-1 win against Norway, and Antti Niemi has yet to play.

Finland: The Finns haven't faced Canada in the Olympics since 2006, when they won 2-0 during group play on the way to the gold-medal game. This Canadian team has a lot more firepower, according to Finland captain Teemu Selanne.

"They have four All-Star lines so it's not going to be easy," he said. "We all know those guys. We play against them every day back home. It's going to be hard, but on the same hand it's going to be a challenge. We need a tough game now. It's a big ice surface so hopefully that's going to be an advantage for us."

Selanne became the oldest player in Olympic history to score when he had one of Finland's three first-period goals against Norway. The 43-year-old has 21 goals in 33 games during six Olympiads.

Finnish coach Erkka Westerlund said Friday he knows who will start in goal against Canada, but wouldn't tell the media. "I know who the goalie is going to be, but you don't," he said, smiling.

Canada: After an unimpressive victory against Norway, Canada looked every bit like a gold-medal contender blowing out undermanned Austria. Jeff Carter had a natural hat trick in a span of less than 10 minutes in the second period; Shea Weber, Drew Doughty and Ryan Getzlaf also scored.

Any questions about the Canadians' confidence following their win against the Norwegians have disappeared going into the showdown with the Finns.

"We're looking forward to the matchup against Finland," Doughty said. "Obviously they're going to be our toughest matchup yet. At the same time, no matter who we face we're going to have the same confidence and the same swagger. We're looking forward to it."

Forward Patrick Sharp and defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who sat out against Austria, will be back in the lineup against Finland. Canada officials haven't said who won't dress; coach Mike Babcock said he will meet with his goaltenders Saturday night to let them know who will start.

What's next: The winner can look forward to a couple of days off before the quarterfinals begin Wednesday. The loser could get a bye, depending on goal differential; Finland enters the game plus-9, Canada is plus-8.

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