BRATISLAVA – Captain Mikko Koivu scored twice in the shootout to lift Finland to a 5-4 win over Germany in Qualification Round play at Orange Arena on Friday afternoon. It was the first German loss of the tournament.
Germany – Finland 4-5 (1-1, 3-2, 0-1, 0-1) Game Sheet Photos
It was not a banner night for Finnish goaltending, yet in the end it didn't matter. Starter Teemu Lassila was yanked for Petri Vehanen late in the second period, but the two still got the best of German starter Dennis Endras as the Finns outshot the Germans 49-21.
"I'm very happy with the win, having been down by two goals in the second period," said Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen. "It was, mentally, a tough situation. Fortunately, we recovered and were tough enough to win the game in the shootout."
In regulation time, Tuomo Ruutu scored a pair, Janne Pesonen had a goal and two assists, and Jarkko Immonen added a single for Finland. Sami Lepistö had two assists.
Andre Rankel, Felix Schütz, Kai Hospelt and Patrick Reimer replied for Germany.
"We've collected points in every game, and I think we're on the right track," said German coach Uwe Krupp.
Germany, now at seven points in Group E, faces Denmark next on Saturday. Finland, now sitting at five points, takes on host Slovakia that day.
"It was a tough game, and they deserve a lot of credit," said Finnish defenceman Ossi Väänänen of Germany. "They played a good game. They play fairly simple, a little North American-style hockey."
The Finns grabbed a 1-0 lead just 13 seconds in with a German own goal. Koivu couldn’t reach the puck on a pass from Ruutu on a give-and-go rush, but German defenceman Robert Dietrich inadvertently deflected the puck past Endras. The goal was credited to Ruutu.
"We were down by a goal after just 13 seconds, against a Finnish team that came like a shot out of a cannon," said Krupp.
Endras did his best to keep the score close, using his right skate to foil a dangerous solo dash off right wing by Finnish super-kid Mikael Granlund. The Germans matched the Finns physically too, as Korbinian Holzer demolished Koivu with a big north-south hit.
At 14:45, Rankel got the equalizer, diving to bat in the rebound from Michael Wolf’s shot from the far side of the right faceoff circle.
In a wild second period, both teams picked up their tempo. Juhamatti Aaltonen went off for high-sticking Marcus Kink in the mouth, and although the Germans didn’t capitalize on the power play, they gained a territorial advantage.
Schütz made it 2-1 Germany when he tipped Philip Gogulla’s point drive through Lassila’s legs at 6:28. Just over a minute Hospelt raced down left wing and wristed a shot that deflected off Granlund’s stick and up over Lassila’s glove for a 3-1 lead.
That prompted Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen to call a timeout to wake his team up. The Finns mounted a furious assault on the German net. At 11:39, Finland made it 3-2 when Granlund’s centering pass bounced in off Pesonen’s helmet. But the strong play of Endras prevented Finland from tying it back up.
With 1:53 left in the second, an onrushing Immonen got the equalizer on a fantastic cross-ice pass from Pesonen, launching the puck into a wide-open net with Endras caught on his knees.
The Germans weren’t cowed, however. Reimer caught the Finnish defence backing in and whizzed a shot past Lassila’s glove with 57 seconds left before the buzzer. That soft goal prompted Jalonen to pull Lassila in favour of Vehanen.
Near the eight-minute mark of the third, Germany thought it had taken a two-goal lead when Alexander Barta rang a high backhand off the post from the slot, but the referee immediately waved it off.
Finland continued to press, and Ruutu's second of the game, deflecting in high off a German defender from a terrible angle in the corner, made it 4-4 with 5:48 remaining.
Pesonen had a great chance to win it in the last minute of regulation when he dangled through the German defence at top speed, but couldn't put it home before crashing heavily into the end boards.
Overtime solved nothing, and it was off to the shootout, where Koivu showed off his steely resolve.
For the shootout, Finland won the right to shoot first, and it unfolded as follows (according to the IIHF game-winning shots procedure, in which three different shooters from each team take alternate shots until a decisive goal is scored – and if the game is still tied after three shots by each team, the GWS continues with a tie-break shootout by one player of each team, with the shooting order reversed):
Round 1: FIN, Immonen - Endras save. GER, Reimer - goal.
Round 2: FIN, Koivu - goal. LAT, Hospelt - Vehanen save.
Round 3: FIN, Granlund - goal. GER, Wolf - goal.
Round 4: GER, Reimer - miss. FIN, Koivu - goal.
The last time the Germans beat Finland at an IIHF World Championship was a 3-1 decision on April 27, 1993 in Dortmund, Germany.