• VIDEO: HIGHLIGHTS FROM NBC
Rangers forward Olli Jokinen and his Finnish Olympic teammates got off to a fast start at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon, beating Belarus 5-1 in their Group C round-robin opener.
Jokinen was one of the stars for Finland, scoring his team's first goal of the 2010 Games on a power play at 3:24 of the opening period. The Finns never looked back from there, although Belarus made the game somewhat close with a surprising goal to make it 2-1 early in the second period.
|Rangers forward Olli Jokinen celebrates the goal he scored for Team Finland in the Finns' 2010 Olympic tourney opener Wednesday afternoon in Vancouver. |
Jokinen, who saw a lot of time on the power play, finished his day with one shot -- his goal -- in 16:55 of ice time. Among Finnish forwards, only Teemu Selanne and captain Saku Koivu saw more playing time than Jokinen.
Later on Wednesday, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
and Team Sweden shut out Germany 2-0
. Sweden is the defending Olympic gold medalist.
The Finns, who fell to Lundqvist's Swedish team in the 2006 Olympics at Torino, Italy, were heavy favorites coming into the game with 18 active NHL players and every other player on the roster having spent time in the NHL. Belarus, on the other hand, had just three NHL players in the lineup.
Not surprisingly, Finland dominated play in outshooting Belarus 45-12 for the game.
Finland took an early 1-0 lead on a power play, and it was Jokinen who came through with the first goal, scored after Finland won a faceoff in the Belarus zone. Jokinen scored just 43 seconds after Belarus' Alexander Maktritski went off for hooking. The goal, which was the 31-year-old Jokinen's ninth in 13 career Olympic game, came s at 3:24 of the first period.
Koivu won the faceoff for Finland in the left circle and got the puck back to Teemu Selanne at the left point. With Jokinen creating traffic in front of Belarussian goalie Vitali Koval, Selanne faked a shot, enabling Jokinen to move to his right. Selanne found him with a perfect pass, and Jokinen sent it up into the net past an out-of-position Koval, who was still playing the shot from Selanne.
With his assist on Jokinen's goal, Selanne tied the record for career points in Olympic hockey. Competing in his fifth Olympic Games, Selanne now has 36 career points and could break the record in Finland's next game against Germany on Friday night.
Finland got another power-play opportunity late in the period when Alexander Ryadinski was called for hooking at 15:55. Niklas Hagman converted the man-advantage when he scored on a backhand in front amid traffic at 17:50. Mikko Koivu and defenseman Joni Pitkanen picked up assists on the Hagman goal.
The Finns dominated first-period play, outshooting Belarus 17-2, as Finnish goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff found himself alone in his defensive zone for much of the period.
In addition to seeing power-play time, Jokinen was playing on the Finns' second line with Hagman of the Calgary Flames and Antti Miettinen of the Minnesota Wild. Jokinen had nine shifts 6:17 of ice time in the opening period, scoring on his only shot on goal.
Belarus cut the Finnish lead to 2-1 when Montreal's Sergei Kostitsyn scored off a pass from Sergei Demagin at 0:21 of the second period. Demagin, who spent part of the 2008-09 season in the Rangers organization, stole the puck from Lasse Kukkonen right behind the Finland net and found Kostitsyn charging toward the crease, just to the left of Kiprusoff. The goal came on only the third shot of the game by the Finns.
Hagman eventually restored Finland's two-goal lead, sscoring when he picked up a loose puck along the left boards, skated through the crease and deked Koval for his second goal of the game and a 3-1 lead at 16:52 of the second period. Mikko Koivu and Sami Salo assisted on the goal.
Finland continued its territorial domination in the middle period and had outshot Finland 28-4 through 40 minutes. Jokinen saw another 4:37 of ice time in the middle period, but did not register a shot on goal.
It took only 23 seconds of the third period for Finland to make it a 4-1 game when Valtteri Filppula of the Detroit Red Wings picked up a puck sent by Mikko Koivu to the front of the Belarus net and stuffed it in under Koval.
Jarkko Ruutu closed out the scoring for Finland at 12:59 of the third period to make it a 5-1 final.