HALIFAX – Mikko Koivu wasted no time in establishing his presence at the 2008 IIHF World Championships. Koivu scored twice in leading Finland to a 5-1 win over Germany.
The game began as a chess match with both teams keeping scoring chances largely to the outside. Both teams battled in zones, along corners, and in front of each other’s net.
Finland applied early pressure in keeping the puck largely in Germany’s end and had some of the best early chances to score.
Sean Bergenheim raced down to Dmitri Patzold’s right but was stopped. Patzold later made a beautiful dead-on stop on Selanne during Finland’s first power play of the game. In the waning seconds of the first period Antti Pihlstrom attempted a backhand wraparound but was unsuccessful.
"They played well, the Germans don't make it easy on you," said Bergenheim. "We played an exhibition against them a few weeks ago in Germany so we knew what to expect."
Germany and Finland were well represented by ardent supporters who’ve made the trip and providing plenty of business at local saloons in Halifax. The German fans were vocal. Small clusters sang throughout and chanted “Deutschland”. Not to be outdone, Finnish fans around the arena would chip in by chanting “Suomi”.
Finland wasted no time in claiming the lead in the second when Koivu buried Tuomo Ruutu’s backhand pass in front of Germany’s net. Koivu stood alone as two defenders missed coverage and Patzold was out of position. Coming at 1:45 into the period, Finland was finally on the board.
Two costly penalties would be Germany’s undoing. Jason Holland and Sebastien Osterloh were whistled off putting the Germans down two men. Finland capitalized on the first power play as Holland’s penalty was four seconds away from expiring. Olli Jokinen rocketed a slapshot past a defenseless Patzold making it 2-0. It was his first of the tournament and the game-winner.
"I said before the tournament started that special teams would be very important," said head coach Doug Shedden. "And today we got big power play goals."
Florian Busch cut the lead in half with a power play goal. It was sweet vindication for Busch who cleared by the World Anti-Doping Association prior to the game allowing for his participation in the tournament.
Finland opened it up with two quick goals to start the third period. Koivu scored his second of the game :24 into the period.
"Things were a little dicey at that point but Koivu's goal was phenomenal," said Shedden. "I cannot say enough good things about him."
Hannes Hyvonen added another some two minutes later. At that point what was once a close game for two periods was decidedly in Finland's favor and safely put away. Teemu Selanne added another for good measure, going five-hole on Patzold.
"We played a solid game and this will help us prepare for the top teams," said Bergenheim. "We will be more ready for them now, I think."
Finland next faces Norway on Monday afternoon, while Germany faces Slovakia on Monday evening.