HELSINKI – It was a night of Fs, when Finland's Valtteri Filppula scored four points, two goals and two assists, as Finland beat Kazakhstan 4-1.
Finland also outshot Kazakhstan 44-17 and scored three powerplay goals in the game.
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"I think this was a good last game of the preliminary round. Now we have two days to get ready for the playoff stage," Filppula said.
"I think we started well, spent a lot of time in their zone, and defended well. That's what we have to do: stick to our game plan and believe that we can score the necessary goals at some point," he added.
Finland and Kazakhstan had met in the World Championships only once before, in 1998. Finland won that game 4-0 and Sami Kapanen scored the game winning goal at 7:18. Tonight, the Finnish fans had to endure a little more anxiety, as Kazakhstan made Finland work for the points.
The first period was mostly an exercise in power play, and penalty killing, as the teams combined ten minutes of penalties. Neither team managed to capitalize on their chances, even if Finland had the better chances in the period.
Kazakhstan’s Vladislav Kolesnikov received two-minute penalty for interference just 2:37 into the period and this time Finland found a way to beat Vitali Kolesnik in Kazahkstan’s goal.
Valtteri Filppula played the puck to Mikko Mäenpää on the point. He fired a wrist shot to the net and Jussi Jokinen redirected it into the Kazakhstan net at 4:02 into the second period. It was his fourth goal in the tournament.
“I think it was a pretty solid 60 minutes by us. It was good to get back in the saddle after the U.S. game. Now we know we’re still a good team and know how to play hockey," said Jokinen.
With 8:22 remaining, two loud sounds echoed in the arena. First, the sound of Mäenpää taking a slap shot off Juuso Hietanen’s pass, and then, a second or so later, the sound of the capacity crowd jumping up and cheering for Finland’s second goal. Filppula was awarded an assist on the 5-on-3 powerplay goal as well.
"The penalties killed us. The referee made some bad calls, I think, especially the five-on-three, and against that team you just can't take them," said Kazakhstan's Konstantin Pushkaryov.
Filppula scored his third point of the game at 17:43 when he scored Finland’s third goal from Tuomas Kiiskinen’s feed. Kiiskinen sent a cross-ice pass to the slot, Filppula waited and got Kolesnik to hit the ice, and then lifted the puck into the net.
Kazakhstan started the third period shorthanded and with 46 seconds remaining on the Finnish powerplay, Koivu set Filppula up with a nice backhand pass to the bottom of the left faceoff circle and Filppula onetimed it in for 4-0.
When Kazakhstan finally got a powerplay opportunity, they took it as Konstantin Pushkaryov ended Petri Vehanen's shutout bid with a quick wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle that went in over Vehanen's shoulder at 9:03.
"I didn't face a lot of shots but they had a couple of good scoring chances. They have a lot of skill on the team, guys that play in the KHL, so they know how to put the puck in the net when they get a chance," Vehanen said.
For Kazakhstan, the tournament ended in tonight's loss.
"I think we played well five-on-five. We played well defensively. Our goalie did terrific work. But we should be better on our power play, score a couple of goals. The guys played well. We took hits, blocked shots, did everything well. We wanted a win, but it didn't work, so we go down a division," Pushkaryov said.
Finland will now get ready for the quarter-finals.
"I think we started the tournament well, and had a bad 90-minute period there [in the games against Canada and the U.S] but other than that we've played solid hockey," said Jokinen.
"It's pretty tough to play four games in five days and five games in seven days. I think it's smart to get our minds off hockey tomorrow and use Wednesday and Thursday for getting ready for the quarterfinal," he added.