Juuse Saros

Finland’s Juuse Saros stopped 28 of 29 shots and the team in front of him scored four to beat Russia 4-1.

Playing their best game of the tournament so far, the Finns defeated Russia 4-1 on Monday. Finland conceded the first goal to Valeri Vasiliev and Russia but after that, it was all Finland as they scored three in the second period and added one more in the third to seal a 4-1 win. Russia did not start star goaltender Andrei Vasilevski in this one, choosing instead to rest him for their big game against Sweden tomorrow. As for Finland, they were without Rasmus Ristolainen due to the flu. The win is Finland’s second of the tournament and ties them with Russia in terms of win-loss records, but Finland is ahead in the standings because they won the head-to-head match-up.

First Period:

A couple of minutes into the game, Russia would get an early power play opportunity thanks to a Ville Leskinen holding the stick penalty. The man advantage would only last so long as Andrei Mironov got called for tripping and negated the Russian power play. After the four-on-four time, Finland had a short power play that the Russians killed off. A few minutes later, Russia got on the board first. Pavel Buchnevich does a very nice job fighting off a Finnish defender in the corner and then found enough room to pass it to Valeri Vasiliev right in front of Juuse Saros and Vasiliev buried it to give Russia a 1-0 lead. After some good opportunities for both sides, Finland would have a chance with the man advantage to tie the game on a Eduard Gimatov high sticking penalty. While they did have their chances, the Russians were able to kill the penalty and get the game back to even strength. Both teams trade chances until the end of the first period with Russia up 1-0 despite being out shot 14-12 by the Finns who did a good job getting chances on the Russian back-up Ivan Nalimov who got the start over Andrei Vasilevski in order to rest Vasilevski for the big game against Sweden.

Second Period:

The second period begins well for the Finns as they create a scramble in front of Nalimov, but it is removed from danger by the Russians. They then get a power play when Kirill Maslov gets called for a high-stick. They capitalize almost immediately. Some nice passing from Teuvo Teravinen to Ville Pokka and then Pokka makes a real nice no-look to Saku Maenalanen who beat Nalimov with the one-timer to tie the game 1-1. The Russians would get an opportunity to retake their lead on a Julius Honka boarding minor, however, the Finns killed it without much threat from the Russians. About the halfway point of the second period, Teuvo Teravinen carried the puck into the Russian zone then left it for Henrik Haapala along the boards near the blue line and Haapala shot a weak wrist shot on the goal that possibly deflected off of Nikita Zadorov and by Nalimov to give Finland a 2-1 lead. A few minutes later, Henri Ikonen took the puck off a Russian player in the Finnish zone and took it into the Russian zone and fired a shot at Nalimov that would be stopped, but a big rebound falls to the stick of Rasmus Kumala who made no mistake and Finland went up 3-1. Russia came close to getting it back to a one goal game after good work below the goal line by Ivan Barbashev and he tried to jam the puck by Juuse Saros, but the Finn netminder held strong. The Russians do their best to beat Saros before the end of the second period, but to no avail as the period ends with Finland up 3-1 going into the final frame.

Third Period:

With the Russians trying to get this game within one at the least, Georgi Busarov took a cross-checking penalty over five minutes in and the Finns would get a chance to extend their lead to three. With the power play nearly expired, Finland came down on a three-on-two with Aleksi Mustonen passing it to Juuso Ikonen and then Ikonen passed it to Joni Nikko and his wrist shot beat Ivan Nalimov to put Finland up 4-1 in the third period. About midway through the third, Russia would get a power play (Mikko Lehtonen for tripping) in hopes of being able to get back into this game. Halfway through the power play, Finland’s Esa Lindell got called for boarding and that would put Russia two men up. However, the Russians could not capitalize on the two-man or one man advantages and it stayed 4-1 for Finland. With less than two minutes to go, Finland got a power play to end the game when Russia’s lone goal scorer, Valeri Vasiliev took a hooking penalty. Finland didn’t score on their late power play as the game ended before they could but they still come away with a 4-1 win over the Russians.

Three Stars:

1) Teuvo Teravinen. It was another good game for the Chicago Blackhawks prospect. Through Finland’s first two games, Teravinen was Finland’s best player on the ice and today was more of the same.  He had an assist on two of Finland’s four goals and created other scoring opportunities that didn’t result in goals. In a game where Finland was missing its best defenseman, their captain stepped up big time.

2) Juuse Saros. When you’re playing a team that features Mikhail Grigorenko, Pavel Buchnevich,  and Anton Slepyshev among others, it’s not easy to hold them to just a single goal. Well, that’s what Saros did today. While his team did outplay the Russians, that does not mean Russia had no chances or didn’t put up a fight. Saros stopped 28 of 29 and was obviously a major reason as to why they won.

3)  Pavel Buchnevich. If there was one positive for the Russians, it was the play of Buchnevich in this game. Although Russia was not as good as they have been in their first two games, Buchnevich did what he could to keep his team in this game. He did a very good job of setting up Valeri Vasiliev on the first goal and created more chances for him and his team to score.

Follow me on Twitter: @BShaw27.

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