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Nightmare Finish For Finns

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Finland/Russia Highlights
By Glenn Odebralski for

Oh so close.

Finland was less than five minutes from moving on to the semifinals to face arch rival Sweden. Up 3-1 thanks to a Joonas Donskoi power play goal 2:24 into the third period, his third game with a goal and fourth straight game with a point, Finland was looking strong.

It all came crashing down as Russia woke up and potted two goals in a span of 2:03 to tie it and then recorded the game-winner off the stick of Yevgeni Kuznetsov as he scored top shelf with 3:16 to play in overtime to win it 4-3.

"Just a nightmare," said a dejected Donskoi who finished with the goal on two shots. "We were so close but then we lost it. I don't know. Just a nightmare."

Russia would get to within one with 3:41 left to play. Jamming away at the puck, Kuznetsov would get the puck to just eke by the goal line for a power play goal. He would then set up the tying goal off a great individual effort. He skated around a Finnish defenseman before putting a shot on net. Finland's netminder Joni Ortio made the save but the puck laid in the crease. There Maxim Kitsyn would crash the net and put home the puck before a Finnish defender could swat away.

Donskoi's goal coming in the beginning of the period as he followed up on his own shot to put it past D Shikin should have been the clincher. Or at least the eventual game-winner. It was neither.

"Of course it's never over," said Donskoi. "The third period was just starting. I thought we were going to make it.

"I don't know what happened."

Russia would strike first, thanks to help from the Finns.

Finland/Russia Highlights
Creating good pressure in the offensive zone, Yuri Urychev sent a shot from the point zipping for Ortio. Stationed to the right of the netminder, Finnish captain Sami Vatanen would get his stick on the puck and redirect it up and over his teammates shoulder 10:10 into the first.

Down, the Finns would get the equalizer off two great plays by Iiro Pakarinen. The forward stole the puck in the neutral zone and after taking a few strides, put a shot on Shikin. The netminder made the save but couldn't completely the rebound. Following his own shot, Pakarinen picked up the puck, worked his way around the back of the net and sent a pass out to Teemu Pulkkinen and there the forward put the puck into the open net as Shikin got caught up with the net.

Finland and Russia traded chances throughout most of the second period.

7:37 in, Pakarinen rang one off the crossbar on a rush. Ortio would have to make a save onYevgeni Kuznetsov on the ensuing rush.

Then with 8:24 left, Vatanen made up for the redirected goal by breaking up a Russian two-on-one break, sliding and getting his stick on the pass.

Ortio's best save(s) came with 2:45 to play in the second. In the butterfly, he denied Kitsyn on the ititial shot and then again while on the ice with his paddle on the goal line.

Those saves would spark Finland as they came down on the next shift to score.

Causing a turnover in the neutral zone, Julius Junttila skated in all alone and put the puck top shelf over Shikin's right shoulder for the 2-1 lead.

Working on several power plays in a row, Donskoi converted off his own rebound 2:24 into the third to double the Finns lead.

Finland will now have to regroup as they face Switzerland on Tuesday as the two teams battle it out for fifth place. Finland shut out Switzerland 6-0 during the preliminaries.

"We have got to win that game...that's it," said Donskoi.
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