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Finns Power By Slovakia

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Joonas Donskoi following Finland's 6-0 victory
By Glenn Odebralski for

Heading into the last game of the prelims, Finland's power play was anything but spectacular.

Granted they didn't have that many opportunities in the first place (six), but Finland had entered with just one power play goal, good for seventh best in the tournament in percentage (16.67%).

What could be a better fix-all than to play against a penalty prone Slovakian team (most penalty minutes/penalty minutes a game with 84/28 minutes).

Finland connected on three of their power plays, including two in the first period on their way to a 6-0 victory over Slovakia to give them 10 points and at least second place in Group A play headed into the medal rounds.

"The whole game was a good game. We really didn't give a lot of chances to Slovakia," said Panthers fourth-round pick (#99 overall in 2010 NHL Draft) Joonas Donskoi who finished with a goal on a game-high seven shots. "Playing with the system."

One of those goals on the man advantage came curtesy of Donskoi who has recorded points in three straight games (2-3-5) as he redirected Teemu Pulkkinen's point shot with 6:45 gone in the second period to make it a 4-0 advantage.

Netminder Joni Ortio following Finland's 6-0 victory
"I was just standing in front of the net and Pulkkinen slap shotted it to the net so I just got my stick on it and it went in," said Donskoi.

"After the last game, we talked about some things. It's a simple game. A lot of shots through guys and on the net so they goals came."

The Finns got on the board early in the contest. Just 1:40 in to be exact. Julius Junttila took a shot that hit Slovakian netminder Juraj Holly. The puck bounced up and with his back to the goal Miikka Salomaki batted it in off of Holly off a floater. The play went to review but was deemed a good goal.

Jyrki Jokipakka made it 2-0 on Finland's first power play attempt of the night as he beautifully redirected a Toni Rajala pass from the point 6:32 into the first.

On their second power play, Teemu Pulkkinen sent a howitzer off the post and then the cross bar while Erik Haula made it 3-0 as he put the puck over Holly's right shoulder off a rush up the right side. That tally came with 9:24 remaining in the first.

"We've been battling through it for four games now and it's paid off," said Haula of the power play. "I'm really proud of our guys and we just have to keep it coming and play the next game as hard as we can in the next round."

Donskoi almost made it 4-0 with 4:32 to play in the opening period as he tried to stuff one by Holly. The play went to video review but the video judge found that the puck had not crossed the goal line.

Erik Haula following Finland's 6-0 victory
Just under three minutes following Donskoi's power play goal in the second Haula would net his second of the game off a shorthanded two-on-one break. Holly would get a piece of it but it would not be enough on the play or for him on the night as he was pulled following the goal.

A Slovakia turnover created by Jaako Turtiainen in the Slovak's zone led to Finland's sixth goal as Valtteri Virkkunen took the pass from Teemu Tallberg and snapped it past Dominik Riecicky with 2:21 left in the second.

Causing havoc once again in the offensive zone, Donskoi would clank one off the post with 9:57 left in third.

"Maybe I should have scored four or five goals," joked Donskoi. "If you don't shoot, you never score so seven shots is good. We had good scoring chances so hopefully it will be better the next game."

Riecicky came up with several big saves in succession, including one on Tallberg with 5:16 left to play. Then with 2:11 left Jokipakka made a nice move around a Slovak defenseman but Joel Armia rang the puck off the post off the feed.

If the United States falls to Switzerland in the night cap then Finland would finish first in Group A. If The US wins (in regulation or overtime) then Finland would finish second and the group and would play the Russia/Czech Republic game in the quarterfinals on Sunday. But for Donskoi and the Finns, it doesn't matter who they play or when.

"Tough games now. The real games start," said Donskoi. "It's really exciting and I don't know who it's going to be against but that doesn't matter. We're going to win for sure."
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