HELSINKI – After edging Russia on Friday, host Finland qualified for the quarter-finals with a 7-2 decision over the Austrians, whose chances of making the final eight are now very slim.
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Austria, with five points, has just one game left to play against Russia, the defending champions. The Russians will be hungry to get back into the win column after dropping two straight to France and Finland.
In front of 12,121 fans at Hartwall Arena, Petri Kontiola's goal and two assists made him the first player at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to break into double-digit points (12).
"It's a little tough to play so close after the Russia game," said Kontiola modestly. "I don't know if I was 100 percent with my energy, but we had a good start, which helped."
Veli-Matti Savinainen scored twice, and Lauri Korpikoski and Jarno Koskiranta added a goal and an assist apiece for Finland. Antti Pihlström and Niklas Hagman had the other goals for Finland, while Juhamatti Aaltonen contributed a pair of helpers.
Robert Lukas and Raphael Herburger replied for Austria.
Each time since 2005 that Austria has appeared in the elite division, it has gotten relegated, and coach Manny Viveiros' squad is hoping not to let that happen again.
The Finns started backup goalie Joni Ortio, while Austria went with Bernhard Starkbaum with the sixth straight time. Final shots favoured Finland 43-18.
Even though teams were playing back-to-back games, this affair unfolded at a good tempo. But undisciplined play would seal Austria’s fate.
"We have to analyze this, because lots of mistakes were made," said Starkbaum. "We were close but suddenly we stopped playing our style."
Just over a minute in, Pihlström got a clear break, but Starkbaum foiled him with a glove grab. The Austrian goalie couldn’t stop Pihlström’s tip on Ossi Väänänen’s screened drive from the right point, however, and it was 1-0 Finland at 4:13.
At the six-minute mark, Thomas Vanek, Austria’s top NHL gun, got into the clear, but lost the puck when he tried to fake out Ortio.
The Finns went up 2-0 at 8:13 when Kontiola retrieved the puck from a scramble at the side of the net and centered it to Savinainen, who whipped it into the half-open net.
In the second period, Finland kept Austria completely hemmed in its own zone during an extended two-man advantage, and Kontiola’s 3-0 goal came at 7:48, just before the first penalty, expired on a center point blast.
A scrum erupted in the Finnish zone midway through the game after a forechecking Herburger cut through Ortio’s crease and knocked the goalie over. The Finns went right after Herburger, with Ilari Melart pushing him into the corner. When the dust settled, Finland had another man advantage as Thomas Pöck got the extra minor for roughing. However, the Finns couldn’t convert their best opportunity with a 3-on-1.
Austria kept taking penalties. In the final minute of the second period, Daniel Welser was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for slashing between the legs of Finnish captain Lasse Kukkonen.
Perversely, the ejection actually seemed to benefit the underdogs.
Early in the third period, Austria got back into it with two quick shorthanded goals. The first one was by Robert Lukas at 0:38. Vanek gained the puck on the forecheck and centered it to Lukas, who beat Ortio high blocker side.
Shockingly, the Austrians made it a one-goal game just 2:08 later. Defenceman Juuso Hietanen turned it over at the Finnish blue line to Thomas Hundertpfund, who deftly put Herburger into the clear, and he squeezed a shot past Ortio's right arm.
That, however, was as close as Austria would get.
Korpikoski put Finland up 4-2 at 9:26, banging in a power play rebound with Starkbaum sprawling helplessly. Less than a minute later, Hagman took a sweet, cross-crease backhand feed from Jukka-Pekka Hytönen behind the net and put it high stick side for the fifth Finnish goal. And Jarno Koskiranta made it 6-2 five minutes later.
Savinainen rounded the scoring out at 7-2 with 3:39 left in the game, converting a nice Kontiola pass on a power play rush.
"It was good that we picked it up again, and guys got to score nice goals," said Sami Lepistö. "Korpikoski scored a well-deserved one. He's worked hard and was rewarded for it. Savinainen played a great game, too."
In eight all-time World Championship meetings with Finland, Austria has secured just one point from a 3-3 tie in 2000. The last time these two nations met was also here in Helsinki, where Finland prevailed 5-1 in 2003.