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Struggling United States draws unbeaten Finland in quarterfinals

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The United States cannot afford to wait any longer to start winning games.

The Americans, losers of their last three preliminary-round games, take a 1-3-1 record into Wednesday's single-elimination quarterfinals against unbeaten Finland.

Despite registering only three points in five contests, the Americans advanced to medal-round play by placing above lightly regarded Kazakhstan and Latvia.

As the fourth-place team from Group B, the United States must face Group A winner Finland, which has won all five of its games while outscoring its opposition 19-2.

"It's almost like a playoff game where you are playing a great defensive team with great goaltending," American forward Doug Weight said. "If we don't get a goal early - if something bad happens - we have to keep playing our game for 60 minutes."

After managing just two total goals in losses to Slovakia and Sweden, the Americans rediscovered their scoring touch with Tuesday against Russia. It wasn't enough for a victory, however, as the Russians used the tournament's highest-scoring offense to top the United States 5-4.

"A couple of bounces finally went our way," said forward Scott Gomez, who scored one of three U.S. power-play goals. "That's what you need in these tournaments, the breaks. We got them, but so did the Russians."

Gomez's New Jersey Devils teammate Brian Gionta and the Brian Rolston of the Minnesota Wild had the other power-play goals for the Americans, and Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole scored an even-strength goal to create a brief 4-4 tie midway through the final period.

Gionta and Rolston lead the United States with three goals apiece in Turin. Gomez has four assists and leads the team with five points.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Robert Esche took the loss in his first appearance of the Games, stopping just 16 shots.

American coach Peter Laviolette did not reveal who will start in goal against Finland, but Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders seems the likely choice after he started three preliminary-round contests, including last Thursday's 4-1 win over Kazakhstan.

Laviolette did say his team is not discouraged despite its performance.

"I don't think that they're down," Laviolette said. "We just remain confident that we're going to win a hockey game."

Winning hockey games is all Finland has done in the tournament, with each of its five victories coming by at least two goals. But even after defeating Germany 2-0 Tuesday to complete a perfect preliminary round, the Finns know their work is not done.

"I still think we can play better and make better decisions," said Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, whose six goals are the most in Turin. "We know we're going to have a chance to win if we play well, but if we play well and lose, that's no shame."

Niko Kapanen of the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu provided Tuesday's offense for the Finns.

Koivu has two goals and seven assists in the Games, and is tied with Selanne and Slovakia's Marian Hossa for the tournament lead with nine points.

With the top spot in Group A already secured, Finland rested first-string goalie Antero Niittymaki of the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday. Fredrik Norrena made 18 saves for the shutout.

Niittymaki has two shutouts in three starts in the Olympics. He has stopped 85 of 87 shots.

The Finland-United States winner will advance to face the winner of the Canada-Russia quarterfinal on Friday.

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