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Rangers forward Olli Jokinen showed how dangerous he can be on the power play late Friday night, as the veteran center helped Finland beat Germany 5-0 in a Group C round-robin game at the Olympics in Vancouver.
Jokinen picked up an assist and was on the ice for two of Finland's four power-play goals against the German, who have yet to score in their first two Olympic losses to Sweden and Finland.
|Rangers forward Olli Jokinen wasn't afraid to pay the price in front of the net for Finland in its 5-0 shutout victory over Germany on Friday night. Jokinen set a beautiful screen that led to the Finns' third goal shortly after he assisted on their second. |
On Wednesday, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
shut out the Germans 2-0, and on Friday, it was Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild who earned the shutout with 24 saves for Finland. The Swedes and Finns will meet Sunday night at midnight ET in the final round-robin game for both teams. The winner of that game -- assuming it ends in regulation -- will receive an automatic berth in the quarterfinal round.
Through Friday night, the four teams with the inside track on automatic quarterfinal berths were Finland, Sweden, Team USA and the Czech Republic. Each team has six standings points on the strength of two straight regulation wins.
The Finns looked like serious gold-medal contenders in their domination of Germany on Friday, as they have now outscored opponents 10-1 through two games.
Jokinen saw a total of 12:50 in ice time against the Germans, with much of that coming on the power play. He had two shots on goal, both in the third period, but it was his sparkling assist in the middle period that enabled Finland to take a 2-0 lead.
Ahead 1-0 after 20 minutes on the strength of Tuomo Ruutu's power-play goal at 4:21 of the first period, the Finns struck again at 4:04 of the second. Jokinen would pick up the primary assist on that second Finnish goal, scored by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen on a power play with only six seconds remaining in a penalty to Germany's Thomas Greilinger.
With Finland controlling play in the German zone, Saku Koivu picked up the puck along the right-wing boards and fed a pass down to Jokinen, stationed along the goal line off to Patzold's left. Jokinen spotted Timonen crashing from his left point position down toward the net and fed him a perfect pass, which Timonen quickly banged into the net for a 2-0 lead.
The assist was Jokinen's second point in two games at Vancouver, with both points coming on the power play. Through 14 career Olympic games, Jokinen now has 13 points.
The power-play unit of Jokinen, Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Timonen and Sami Salo was outstanding in its puck control and decision-making, and they clicked again for the third Finnish goal at 16:06 of the second period.
Jokinen didn't get a point on the goal, which was the second straight for Timonen, but he played a huge role by blocking goaltender Dimitri Patzold's view of play.
Timonen scored on long shot from blue line, which saile through Jokinen's screen directly in front. It was a historic moment, because With an assist on the goal, Selanne set the Olympic record of 37 career points. Salo and Selanne got the assists, but the goal would not likely have happened without Jokinen's towering screen in front.
At even strength, Jokinen again played on a line with Antti Miettinen of the Minnesota Wild and Calgary's Niklas Hagman, who was briefly his teammate with the Flames after Hagman arrived in a late January trade with Toronto and before Jokinen was traded to the Rangers on Feb. 2.
Jokinen's two third-period shots were stopped by Patzold, who was forced to make tough saves roughly two minutes and 6:30 into the period. Soon after the second stop on Jokinen, Finland's Jarkko Ruutu banged in Ville Peltonen's rebound for 4-0 lead at 7:10 of hte third.
Finnish defenseman Joni Pitkanen closed out the scoring with another power-play goal, scored on long slapper directly across from a screened Patzold at 9:01 of the third period.
The Finns looked extremely sharp heading into their Sunday night game with Sweden, which will be a rematch of the 2006 gold-medal game at Torino, Italy, when Lundqvist stopped Jokinen on a last-ditch effort to tie the game
Both of Sunday's starting goaltenders, Sweden's Lundqvist and the Finns' Miikka Kiprusoff, will be well-rested for the showdown, since each had the day off on Friday while their nations' No. 2 goalies got the start.