In a battle for the Helsinki Group’s top spot, the much-anticipated match between Canada and Finland lived up to the hype. First-period goals by Antti Pihlstrom and Mikko Koivu put Canada in a 2-0 hole, but the red and white roared back in the second and third periods to earn a 5-3 win at the Hartwall Arena.
Oilers pivot Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected an assist on the tying (3-3) goal late in the second period, while winger Jordan Eberle added an empty-netter with 24 seconds on the clock.
No. 93 ended the night with a shot on goal, an even rating and a 66.7-percent success rate in the dot in 13:01 of ice time. Eberle’s goal was his fourth of the tournament as he leads all Oilers in World Championship scoring.
Buoyed by the boisterous crowd, 13,000 strong in their home rink, Finland got off to a quick start. At the 5:53 mark, Sami Kapanen delivered a pinpoint diagonal pass that connected with Pihlstrom at the doorstep. Canadian goaltender Cam Ward had no chance on the play as the backhand shot blew past his split-like reach.
Ward came up big in keeping his team in it, too. He stopped 35 of 38 shots in the win.
With momentum in the home side’s court, penalties to Kyle Quincey and (an undisciplined one) to Dion Phaneuf put the Canadians on the PK. With the Toronto Maple Leafs captain still sitting, Duncan Keith came up with a heroic effort to deny the 2-0 goal by sweeping the puck off the goal line; but he whipped it back into danger, directly onto the stick of an awaiting Koivu who rifled the rebound right back -- this time, denting the twine.
In addition to the 2-0 lead on the scoreboard, the Finns held a daunting 15-4 shot advantage through 20 minutes as well.
But didn’t take long for Canada to regroup and get back in it. Just 5:34 into the second, Vancouver’s Alex Burrows -- who was making his return to the lineup after enduring a concussion in last week’s tournament opener -- showed great patience in drawing a crowd before snapping a shot far side on Kari Lehtonen, making it a 2-1 game.
The momentum was incredibly short-lived, as another undisciplined call put Canada in 4-on-5 hole once again. Jeff Skinner was assessed an elbowing minor 1:02 later, putting the lethal Finnish power-play back to work. And they wasted little time in reestablishing their two-goal edge.
Jesse Joensuu delivered a pass to Jussi Jokinen inside the far circle, who blasted a one-timer past Ward.
But that was the end of the Finnish onslaught.
John Tavares and Skinner, making up for his earlier penalty, tallied 3:47 apart, pulling the Canadians into a 3-3 tie late in the second. Nugent-Hopkins picked up the primary assist as he, along with Keith, set the play in motion.
Canada was still outshot in the middle frame, but only by a 12-11 count.
Following a goal post at the other end, Canada’s Corey Perry engineered a counter-attack that led to the go-ahead goal. Perry rushed the puck up ice and put the puck on a tee for Evander Kane. He made no mistake, potting a shot past Lehtonen at 6:04 of the third and establishing his club’s first lead of the night.
Lehtonen was pulled for an extra-attacker as a late-period, under-siege sequence followed, but Eberle sent the puck into the empty net to seal a 5-3 Canadian win at 19:36.
Canada gets back in action tomorrow vs. Kazakhstan. Puck drop is at 11:15am MT.
USA 3 vs. KAZAKHSTAN 2 (OT)
It wasn’t quite what the Americans had in mind.
With Kazakhstan coming into Friday’s action without any medal hopes, it should have been a blowout. It wasn’t, as the Kazakh’s gave the US a run for their money; but in the end, the team everyone expected to win got it done in overtime.
Justin Faulk was the hero, scoring twice -- including the game-winning goal to propel the US to their second overtime victory -- as the red, white and blue move into to second spot in the Helsinki Group with 10 points.
In a scoreless and penalty-less opening period, the Americans led 15-6 in shots. But Kazakhstan was presented with the game’s best chance when Talgat Zhailauov raced down the near side, cutting to the net and snapping a quick shot that dinged Richard Bachman’s short-side post.
The Kazakh’s kept at it in the second, and a big-time gamble by Bachman nearly cost the US. The netminder raced out to meet a puck in no man’s land, but Konstantin Romanov had a step, scooping it up and sending a shot at the open cage. Faulk came to the rescue, knocking the puck down and keeping the game in a scoreless tie past the second’s midway mark.
The game’s first power-play came at 9:30 when USA’s Jim Slater was assessed a high-sticking minor. The Americans got the advantage’s best chance, shorthanded, when Joey Crabb and Justin Abdelkader escaped on a 2-on-1. Abdelkader made a slick move in cutting across the crease, but Vitali Kolesnik got a piece of it, sending the American forward head-over-heels and keeping the puck out of his net.
Back the other way as the penalty expired, Romanov burst up on a partial break, ripping a slapshot that caromed off the iron once again.
Moments later, the US ended the stalemate. A bad pinch by Kazakh defenceman Sergei Yakovenko propelled the Americans on an odd-man rush. JT Brown walked in while Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev dove in desperation, rifling a shot upstairs on Kolesnik to make it 1-0 on the US’ 27th shot.
The Kazakh’s went back to the power-play late in the period at 16:35 when Jack Johnson was sent off to serve a charging minor. Less than a minute into it, the game was brought back on even terms. From the goal line, Zhailauov zinged a cross-ice pass to Konstantin Pushkaryov on the opposite side -- his glove-side one-timer beat the goalie clean, setting the score at 1-1 heading into the third.
The US went up 2-1 at 4:58 as Faulk raced up on an end-to-end rush, completing the sequence with a pinpoint wrist shot on Kolesnik’s glove side.
But those pesky Kazakh’s kept pressing, cashing the equalizer with only 4:06 to play. Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry was burned wide by Zhailauov, who went on to hammer the puck past Bachman to send the game to overtime.
The US dominated the extra period, scoring the game-winner with only 22 seconds on the clock. Faulk recorded his second of the night on another simple shot to give the Americans a 3-2 OT win.
Petry ended the night with two shots on goal and a -1 rating in 13:55 of ice time.
The Americans get back in action Sunday vs. Finland. Puck drop is at 7:15am MT.
CZECH REPUBLIC vs. ITALY
While the Americans had a scare earlier in the day vs. Kazakhstan, the Czechs didn’t have nearly as much trouble with a team they were supposed to beat.
Oilers winger Ales Hemsky, Martin Erat (who made his tournament debut), Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny and Petr Caslava (2) each scored as the Czech Republic steamrolled Italy by a 6-0 score.
The Czechs got on the board early, striking on a power-play chance at 5:52. Ex-Oiler Nedved’s skate was used as a redirection point, putting the Italians down and out on a tally that required video review.
Italy’s goaltender, Thomas Tragust, stopped 35 of the Czechs’ 31 three-period attempts in the loss.
7:07 later, it became a 2-0 game when Novotny worked a give-and-go with Jakub Petruzalek, snapping a shot past Tragust and establishing a daunting scoreboard advantage.
The Czechs’ balanced attack struck again in the middle period, as Petr Tenkrat dished to Caslava in the slot, ripping a snapshot by the netminder at 7:15.
At 11:45 of the same period, Hemsky made his mark. On another power-play opportunity, No. 83 wheeled from the corner and zipped a shot up and over Tragust to make it a 4-0 game.
It only took a minute for the Czechs to extend on that lead when Caslava’s second of the night made it 5-0. Late in the game and with the Czechs working another man-advantage, Erat, who was making his tournament debut, bulleted a wrister from the point to put the touches on a 6-0 victory.
In total, Hemsky recorded a goal, one shot on net and an even rating in 16:33 of ice time.
The Czechs get back in action Sunday vs. Russia. Puck drop is at 7:15am MT.
ROUND ROBIN SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times mountain) Friday, May 4: