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Finns rally keeps pressure on Canada in Group F

by Adam Schwartz

Ville Koistinen was awarded a key power-play goal on a non- call that helped Team Finland defeat Team USA, 3-2, at the 2008 World Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This weekend's World Championship action provided no shortage of excitement, including some controversy and a comeback in Sunday's Finland-United States game.

In Sunday's qualification-round game, the Finns gained the momentum with a controversial goal by Ville Koistinen after the Americans scored two goals by Tom Gilbert and Phil Kessel in the second period. Koistinen, who had 17 points in 48 games for the Nashville Predators this season, is Finland's only NHL defenseman.

Koistinen's shot appeared to go through the side of the net, but was allowed to stand.

Koistinen's goal cut Team USA's lead in half and the Finns rode that momentum and got two more goals from Teemu Selanne and Mikko Koivu to complete the comeback and capture a 3-2 victory.

United States coach John Tortorella was irked at the missed call, but admits that his team deserved its fate.

“What goal? What goal?” Tortorella said. “They go upstairs. They look at a replay. What the hell were they looking at? But we deserved our fate. We didn't deserve to win that hockey game.”

The U.S. was outshot 42-20 in the game, including being outshot 22-7 in the third period. Despite 90 minutes in penalties, each team managed just one power-play goal – Kessel for the United States and Koistinen for Finland.

The Finns, who have not yielded more than two goals in any game during the tournament, think that they can play with any team in the World Championships.

"We always know we have a chance to win if we play our game," Selanne said.

Finland has won all four of their games, but has 11 of a possible 12 points because they beat Norway in overtime. As a result, Finland trails Canada for the lead in Group F by one point. Finland faces Canada Monday afternoon at the Halifax Civic Centre to decide the winner of Group F.

The United States is 2-2 and is in third place in Group F and battles Norway on Monday with third place in the group on the line. The top four teams from each group advance to the medal round.

Around the World Championships --
Russia has 10 of a possible 12 points and is undefeated and leads Group E. Russia, however, has no margin for error because Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – the teams in Group E that will advance to the next round of the tournament – all have nine points and are tied for second place in Group E. … Czech Republic right wing Tomas Fleischmann, who had 30 points in 75 games for the Washington Capitals this season, has two goals and three assists for five points in six games and leads the Czechs with a plus-6 rating. … Czech left wing Patrik Elias, who led the New Jersey Devils with six points in the playoffs this season, leads the Czech forwards with six goals and nine points. … Canadian center Eric Staal had four goals and an assist and a plus-3 rating Saturday in Canada's 10-1 victory against Germany. Staal is now tied for eighth in tournament scoring with seven points in five games. Canada, which is the only team that has won every game in regulation, has allowed just six goals in five games, which is tied with Finland for the fewest in the tournament. … Switzerland remained hot Saturday and handily defeated Denmark 7-2. Paul DiPietro, who had a goal and two assists in the game, admits to letting up a little in the third period, but thought his team put forth a good effort.  “We came out strong,” DiPietro said. “We got an early lead, and played the same way we're going to play against Russia. We're going to try to shut them down and play hard. We had a little letdown in the third period, but it was a pretty good team effort.” … Sweden, which beat the Czech Republic 5-3 on Sunday and lost Saturday to Russia 3-2 in the qualification round, has scored the most goals in Group E with 23 – just one less than Canada, which leads the tournament with 24 goals scored. Neither of Sweden's top two scorers, Mattias Weindhandl – four goals and six assists for 10 points – or Tony Martensson – four goals and five assists for nine points – played in the NHL this season. … Slovakian defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who was tied for No. 15 among NHL defensemen with 33 assists this season, leads the Slovaks with nine points.    

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