EDMONTON – Petr Mrazek didn’t lead the Czechs to another miraculous performance tonight as Finland blanked the Czech Republic 4-0.
The Finns finish Group B in second place and will play Slovakia, the third-place team of the other group on January 2 (15:00 local time).
The Czech Republic ends up in third place and will play the second-place team of Group A on January 2 (19:00), Russia game.
"Our first game here (against Canada) was bad, but when the game was over we decided to move on," Finnish forward Teemu Pulkkinen said. "We've played three games well now and we're happy with where we are. We think we've played better every game. Today we played well, and 4-0 is a good score for us."
The outcome of the game became clear early when the Finns outshot their opponents 13-11 in the first period and capitalized on their chances.
Discipline, the Czechs’ key in their third-period comeback against the United States, seemed to fade away as Daniel Krejci took a penalty after just 15 seconds of play.
When Radek Faksa was sent to the penalty box ten minutes later, Suomi capitalized on the opportunity. Alexander Ruuttu opened the scoring at 11:42 after a centering pass from Mikael Granlund.
"They were more disciplined today. We had a lot of penalties today and they had only one. That was a key for the game," Mrazek said.
"We had a lot of shots, but many were from the blueline. We didn't get many rebounds. Not a lot of (good) scoring chances."
Five minutes later Miro Aaltonen put himself on the scoreboard when his shot slipped between Mrazek’s pads. Aleksander Barkov did some excellent spadework when he brought the puck by two Czechs along the boards to make space for Aaltonen in the middle.
The Czechs tried to come back and outshot Finland 17-8 in the middle stanza, but this time it was Finnish goalkeeper Sami Aittokallio, who had a great performance in the net including some spectacular saves.
"They had a tougher game yesterday but we played later," Aittokallio said after his 36-save shutout. "But I think we had a good game even though we had less time to get ready."
Aittokallio, third in save percentage in the tournament so far, is also expected to play the quarter-final game. "They haven't said anything yet, but I hope I start," he said.
While Aittokallio kept his team in front, Joonas Donskoi extended the lead midway through the game. Miikka Salomäki found his way to pass by the Czechs and Donskoi scored after a pass from Joel Armia.
The Czech efforts also remained unrewarded in the third period. In a counter-attack Pulkkinen deked Czech defenceman Jiri Riha to score Finland’s fourth goal of the day. It was his fifth goal of the tournament.