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Barkov stars as Finland tops United States

by Adam Kimelman

Aleksander Barkov showed why he's considered one of the top players available for the 2013 NHL Draft, scoring a goal and adding two assists in the third period as Finland topped the United States 5-1 on Saturday in the final exhibition game for both teams heading into the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Finland scored three power-play goals in the third period to blow open what had been a one-goal game for the first two periods.

Alexander Barkov

Blake Pietila scored the lone goal for the United States, while goalie John Gibson, the likely starter when the team opens the WJC on Dec. 27 against Germany, made 25 saves.

Penalties again were a problem for the U.S. team -- it handed Finland eight power plays after giving Sweden nine extra-man chances in a 3-2 overtime win Thursday.

"Finland took the lead in the first period and I thought we disrupted the flow of our play by taking penalties," U.S. coach Phil Housley said. "We cannot afford to take as many penalties as we did and expect to win. We will focus on becoming more disciplined before the tournament begins."

The United States arrived in Finland for its two exhibition games with 26 players, and will make final cuts Sunday to get down to the final 23-player roster.

Finland led 1-0 after two periods on Robert Leino's goal at 15:47 of the first, but didn't need much time in the third to increase their advantage.

With two seconds left on a Seth Jones penalty assessed in the final minute of the second, Finland got a power-play goal from Markus Granlund 1:06 into the third. Just 1:13 later, Barkov made it 3-0 when he scored from right in front of the U.S. goal.

Barkov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated Finnish skater in its preliminary rankings of players available for this year's draft, has 14 goals and 28 points in 32 games with Tappara of SM-liiga.

Pietila made it 3-1 when he scored off a rebound at 3:12 of the third, but any momentum gained was lost at the 3:40 mark when forward Stefan Matteau was given a two-minute penalty and a game misconduct for a hit to the head. On the ensuing power play, Artturi Lehkonen redirected Barkov's shot past Gibson to make it 4-1 at 5:02.

Another U.S. penalty, this time on Ryan Hartman, led to another Finland power-play goal, with Barkov setting up Teuvo Teravainen at 11:31.

The United States will shift the remainder of its preparation time to Ufa, Russia, site of this year's WJC. The tournament opens Dec. 26, but the U.S. team won't play its first game until it faces Germany on Dec. 27.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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