USA Falls at World Championship to Finland in a Shootout
/ Florida Panthers
The IIHF World Championship picture is beginning to clear up as the Quarter-finals are now completed. Team USA fought hard, but ultimately fell 5-4 on penalty shots to Finland. Jere Lehtinen (Dallas Stars) scored the game winner against an American team that rallied from four separate one-goal deficits before the deciding blow. The Florida Panthers own Ville Peltonen, who has made a habit of coming up big in penalty shot situations, had the first shot in the shootout. However, USA goalie John Grahame (Carolina Hurricanes) was able to make a stick save on the play. Lehtinen, who had the last shot in the shootout, told www.IHWC.net, "When I went out on the ice, I was thinking about what to do. He was pretty deep in his goal. I wanted to shoot high, and I got a pretty good shot." The Finns head to the Semi-Finals to play host Russia on Saturday. Russia advanced by shutting out the Czech Republic and Florida Panthers winger Rostislav Olesz 4-0 on Wednesday.
In Thursday’s other Quarter-final matchup, Canada and Florida Panthers defenseman Cory Murphy defeated Switzerland 5-1. Matthew Lombardi (Calgary Flames) continued his hot streak by scoring two goals, and he now has five in the last two games and six overall. Canadian teammate Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets) added a goal and an assist, and Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes), Dion Phaneuf (Calgary Flames), and Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes) each had two assists. After winning a rematch of the 2003 and 2004 World Championship Finals teams, Canada now faces Sweden on Saturday for a shot at this year’s IIHF World Championship Finals. Sweden advanced on Wednesday by beating Slovakia 7-4
This World Championship, and the 2008 World’s in Canada, count toward Olympic qualification in Vancouver, following which the top nine teams in the IIHF rankings directly enter the Olympics. Those ranked 10th and worse will compete for the last three spots.