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Team Finland Wraps World Cup with Loss to Russia

Granlund, Koivu and Haula will arrive at Wild training camp on Monday

by Evan Sporer / Special to

TORONTO - Down on a knee, all Mikael Granlund could do is watch his one-time shot ring off the post and sail wide, inches away from giving Finland a lead. 

In some ways, the play was a microcosm of the tournament for Finland, who finished group play on Thursday with a 3-0 loss to Russia, ending a winless World Cup for the Finns. 

After Jori Lehtera was able to force a turnover in the offensive zone, he and Granlund had a 2-on-1 down low. With goalie Sergei Bobrovsky high in his crease shaded toward Lehtera, he passed the puck over to Granlund, whose shot rang off the post.

 Fifty-eight seconds later, Vladimir Tarasenko scored to give Russia a 1-0 lead. Russia doubled that advantage 79 seconds later on an Ivan Telegin goal. 

Granlund had a few very good chances, including midway through the second period when Mikko Koivu found him in the crease with a pass to finish off a give-and-go. Bobrovsky though was able to get a piece of Granlund's shot and push it wide of the left post.

"Everybody understands that if you score you get so much energy and positive thinking in your team," Finland head coach Lauri Marjamaki said. "But now we didn't score."

Key Moment: With their tournament lives in the balance, Alex Ovechkin put on a stickhandling display to set up Tarasenko for Russia's first goal.

Known for his scoring, it was a dazzling piece of playmaking from Russia's captain that set up the eventual game-winning goal for Russia. 

"It was a difficult situation before the game how we prepared this game because we lost that game on Tuesday and lost against young stars," Marjamaki said. 

Add on that Finland had the youngest roster at the 2016 World Cup besides Team North America, and Finland, which Marjamaki said is currently in a transition, was in a tough spot. 

"It would be interesting to see exact the same team for example Olympics 2018," Marjamaki said. "The future seems bright nevertheless for Team Finland."

The Skinny: The Wild's trio of Finnish forwards Erik Haula, Koivu, and Granlund will now return to Minnesota and report to training camp, which opens on Friday. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau indicated he will give the three, along with Americans Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who will also be home Friday, the weekend off in an attempt to re-charge. 

The win also secured Russia a spot in the semifinal round against Canada yesterday, eliminating Team North America in the process.

That Granlund and Koivu begin training camp on the same line seems like a safe assumption. It's how they finished the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, were used at the 2016 World Championships in Russia, and played at the World Cup. 

The World Championship results were glowing, with Granlund the fourth leading scorer in the tournament with 12 points in 10 games. 

Though neither found their way onto the score sheet in Toronto, Finland struggled offensively as a team, with one goal in its three games. Playing with either Joonas Donskoi or Teuvo Teravainen on the right wing of the line, it drew a lot of attention from opposing teams. 

What was promising again though was the chemistry the countrymen showed. On the give-and-go in the second, Koivu had released the puck, sending it through the crease with Granlund still below the goal line, anticipating he would cut to the front. 

Granlund was also much more aggressive on the forecheck, a tactically change he said he's been able to make on the wing because he doesn't have to play as low in his own defensive zone. 

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