Finland hold on for 4-3 win

Three unanswered goals boost comeback

19.05.2014
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Minsk Arena Minsk  Belarus

Kazakhstan's Alexei Ivanov (#28) makes the save against Finland's Erik Haula (#56). Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Down 2-1 and with Kazakhstan playing well in the first period, Finland regrouped to score a 4-3 win.

Jarkko Immonen’s second period goal put the Finns ahead to stay as they slipped past Kazakhstan 4-3.

Finland was playing to stay alive and in contention in the hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals of the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. With the win the Finns now have 11 points in Group B.

Finland has to wait to see what happens later tonight and tomorrow before their fate is decided. No matter the outcome in tonight’s Latvia-Belarus game, Finland will remain in contention and all eyes will be focused on tomorrow’s tilts.

What is known is that Switzerland is officially out of contention with today’s result.

Kazakhstan was officially relegated with their loss to Switzerland two nights ago and playing only for pride and possible spoilers.

"We knew we had to win this game and we got the win like we were supposed to," Juuso Hietanen said. "It was probably a bit too tight in the end. We had our chances to score more and make it easier for ourselves but we knew it would be a tough game against Kazakhstan."

Kazakhstan started the game slowly, unable to get a shot on goal until almost the midway point of the period. Finland kept the bulk of the action in the opposing zone and the pressure on starter Alexei Ivanov.

Finland took a 1-0 lead when defenceman Olli Palola scored with a slapshot at 7:53. Jori Lehtera was responsible for getting things started when he drew a penalty on Alexei Litvinenko. On the power play, Lehtera found Palola with a pinpoint pass that allowed for an uncontested shot on goal. With the goalie slow to react, Lehtera has plenty of time to score.

Despite taking the lead, Kazakhstan eventually found its stride and assumed command of the game in the second half of the period.

Kazakhstan would get on the board to equalize the score when Yevgeni Rymarev netted his second goal in as many games. Then 1:21 later, Fyodor Polishuk gave his team the lead.

With the man advantage, Rymarev skated with the puck behind the Finnish goal then found Polishuk cruising towards the net. Polishuk had enough time and room after getting the puck to send it past Pekka Rinne.

It was the first lead Kazakhstan would have in a game since the second period of their game against Team USA on Friday.

In the waning minutes of the period, Kazakhstan continued to press and found shots on net but the final goal of the period would go to the Finns.

With 42.7 seconds remaining in the period, Lehtera slipped the puck past Ivanov Finland toed it up 21 scored on an out of position Ivanov.

Lehtera has had plenty of opportunities in the last two games and has been around the puck. He’s been especially effective on the power play and usually the catalyst in making things happen.

Olli Jokinen’s goal in the second was one of the more unfortunate scores of the tournament. The Finnish captain’s shot hit Alexei Litvinenko in the face and was redirected into the goal. Jokinen’s goal gave the Finns a lead they would gradually add on to over the rest of the game.

Kazakhstan did not cease their efforts. They continued working to get a third goal. Rymarev had the best of chances when the Finnish defenceman fanned on the puck. Rymarev collected the turnover all alone in front. He tried to make a move to fake out Rinne but the Finnish netminder handled it calmly, making an outstretched save.

"They could have scored more and both goalies did great," Jarko Immonen said. "We took too many penalties and they got some chances. In the end we were a bit lucky they didn't score again at the end of the third period."

In the final 2.7 seconds Finland came back the other way as Immonen scored between two defencemen. Olli Jokinen and Pekka Jormakka notched assists.

Kazakhstan would not go away. They scored with 29 seconds remaining to cut the score to 4-3 but that’s where their good fortune would end.

The game marked the end of the line for Kazakhstan. They were winless in seven games that included two overtime losses. Three games they scored first and generally kept their game scores competitive. Only their games against Russia and Switzerland were the Kazakhs dominated.

Finland now sits and waits to see what their fate will be for the remainder of this tournament.

"We'll probably be watching the games later and hoping that we can continue in the tournament," said Hietanen. "We have to do all the preparation as if we are going to play on Wednesday in the next stage. We're just hoping we will get there."

JOHN SANFUL

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