In a game featuring two superstar goaltenders between the pipes, Finland and Russia played a truly amazing game to end the preliminary round of the World Championships, with the former taking the game 3-2 on Tuesday.
Russia grabbed the first goal of the contest. With two minutes left on the clock, Petri Kontiola lost a battle against Evgeni Malkin in along the boards. Malkin then got it over to Sergei Mozyakin at the slot, who fired a hard shot past Pekka Rinne, who was screened in front due to Nikolai Kulemin creating havoc in front.
The goal wasn’t what the Finns were hoping for, but a final minute travesty really got them upset. In a call that will surely prove to be controversial for a while, Leo Komarov clipped Evgeni Medvedev in the shoulder, injuring Medvedev in the process. It looked like a fair hit, with a two minute elbowing penalty maybe at the most. After a bit of delay, the referees decided to award Komarov a five minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing, something most fans in attendance were surely not agreeing with. The Finns were very furious about the call, but in the end, there was nothing they can do about it.
After killing off the five minute penalty, with some big saves by Rinne and some helpful blocks from Topi Jaakola and Ossi Louhivaara, the Finns would get a power-play of their own. With Artem Anismiov in the box, Janne Pesonen took a shot that got lost in Anton Belov’s skates. Belov couldn’t get control of it, but Alexsander Barkov was right there to jam home the puck between Sergei Bobrovsky’s legs for the 1-1 goal.
The game would remain tied for a good portion up until the the 55 minute mark of the third. After Artemiy Panarin created the play to start, Evgeni Dadonov got a chance to bat the puck in in front of the net, only to get stopped by Rinne. Fortunately for the Russians, Panarin was right there to knock in the rebound, pushing it past the Finnish netminder to take the 2-1 lead late in the game.
The goal gave the Russians some life, but it would be Finland who would tie the game up with less than two minutes to go. After Barkov took a shot towards the net, Joonas Donskoi would pick up the puck in front of the net before spinning and deking Bobrovsky for the 2-2 goal. Donskoi has been very clutch for the Finns over the past few games, scoring huge goals late against Slovakia and Belarus over the past two games before potting in the tying marker late on Tuesday.
The game would head to the shootout, giving fans some more incredible action to finish off the day. Bobrovsky stole the show during overtime, making two incredible diving saves with over a minute to go to help send the game off to the shootout. In the skills competition, Donskoi, of course, would score the game winning goal on his second shot attempt, beating Bobrovsky with a quick deke through the five hole. At the other end, the Czech’s would look to force the shootout to go a little longer, but two absolutely outstanding stops by Rinne meant that the Finns would win the game 3-2.
With the victory, Finland will have a meeting with the Czech’s in the late game on Thursday, a 2pm EST start in Prague. Over in Ostrava, Russia and Sweden will fight it out in a battle between the previous two gold medal champions, a game that should be great all the way down to the wire.
Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.