VANCOUVER – Finland and Slovakia would rather be playing for gold, but still each has a chance to win a bronze medal. Tonight’s game at Canada Hockey Place provides a chance for one of these teams to ring home a medal.
Finland is looking to rebound after a humiliating loss in their semi-final matchup against the United States. Six goals surrendered in the first period of their semi-final game was shocking as it was demoralizing.
Finland must erase that loss from its collective memory and put together a consistent effort tonight.
From the first USA goal scored by Ryan Malone that Kiprusoff misplayed, Finland would spend the rest of the day chasing the Americans, who turned in an impressive performance.
Miikka Kiprusoff surrendered four goals in the first before being pulled.
He saw his goals against average balloon from 1.33 to 2.52 after the performance.
Niklas Backström gave up two goals the rest of the way and was steady.
Teemu Selänne and Saku Koivu have not been particularly effective here in Vancouver. Two of Finland’s most important players have not scored a goal yet. Selänne leads the team with 18 shots, but has yet to find the back of the net.
Mikko Koivu has to get off the schneid as well. He has four assists in five games but has not scored a goal.
Slovakia has enjoyed a solid tournament. Big wins over Russia and Sweden brought Slovakia into the semi-finals. While they could not best Canada, Slovakia made it quite a game before losing 3-2.
Michael Handzus, who scored to bring the Slovaks within a goal in the third period yesterday, has registered three goals and is tied for the team lead.
New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, who was injured just prior to the Winter Olympics, also has three goals.
Pavol Demitra and Marian Hossa are tied for the team lead in scoring with two goals and seven points each.
Jaroslav Halak has been the starting goaltender for Slovakia. Halak has played every minute in goal for the Slovaks, saving 92% of the shots faced and a shutout. He has a 2.14 goals against average.