HELSINKI – Jesse Joensuu scored his second goal of the night with nine seconds remaining in the game as Finland beat Team USA 3-2 to advance to the semi-final against Russia on Saturday afternoon (14:30).
Click here for a video with post-game comments.
Cheered on by the home crowd, Finland rallied back from 2-1. Jesse Joensuu scored his second of the night off a nice feed from Petri Kontiola from behind the net, to win the game for Finland, 3-2, with just 8.8 seconds remaining in the game.
Petri Vehanen made 24 saves for Finland.
"I've watched the World Championships on TV for 18 years, and to be here now is fantastic, but I try to not think about it too much, and just focus on my work here," said Joensuu whose first goal in the game was also his first in the national team.
"When we were down by a goal in the third period, I top line came through. It looked like no other line couldn't score, so fortunately they did," Joensuu said.
"The crowd gave us energy, and it helped us through the tough periods in the game," said defenseman Lasse Kukkonen.
In the first two periods, the teams exchanged scoring chances, with the US having control of the game. Coach Scott Gordon pulled goaltender Jimmy Howard with 1.2 seconds remaining in the first period, and the faceoff in Finland’s zone. The U.S. won the faceoff their shot went wide, and the period was scoreless.
The second period was very entertaining, and the game was 27:35 minutes old when the first penalty was called. Max Pacioretty pulled down a Finnish forward in front of the U.S. net, and Finland got its first power-play opportunity, but the Americans killed off the penalty.
"I thought we deserved a couple of power plays. I don't know how many guys have to get hit from behind before we get one. It's disappointing," said Jack Johnson, Team USA captain.
Maybe the high tempo of the game got the best of the teams, but the second period was more open than the first. Both teams had a few turnovers that led to scoring chances but both Howard and Vehanen turned away everything that was thrown at them.
At 13:37 into the second period, Jesse Joensuu fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle and beat Howard on his stick side, giving Finland a 1-0 lead in the game, a step closer to the semi-final against Russia.
But the U.S. fired right back. The announcer was still reading the names Antti Pihlström and Kukkonen, who picked up assists to the Finnish goal when the puck was in the Finnish net.
Joey Crabb and Jeff Petry cycled the puck on the right side of the Finnish zone, Petry fired a hard pass to the net, straight to Kyle Palmieri’s stick and he had an easy task to tap it in to tie the game, 1-1, just 21 seconds after the Finnish goal.
Finland started the third period strong, with their top line cycling the puck, pushing Team USA on their heels.
In the next shift, Justin Faulk snapped the puck towards the Finnish net, Vehanen made a pad save but Bobby Ryan grabbed the rebound and fired it through Vehanen’s five-hole to give the Americans the lead in the game, just 1:39 into the third period. It was Ryan’s fifth goal and Faulk’s eighth point in the tournament.
"We kept trying to preach not to sit back, to keep going and score another one," said Johnson.
"Coming out in the third and grabbing the lead was good for us, but maybe we sat back a little and tried to protect it," added Palmieri.
With 6:58 remaining in the period, Jussi Jokinen sent the puck to the net, and it got deflected off Mikko Koivu's skate into the net to tie the game. Jack Johnson has lost his stick a moment earlier, and couldn't defend like he wanted.
"My stick broke in half at the beginning of the shift, and I couldn't get off, couldn't get a stick. One guy tried to give me a stick but it was right-handed, so I gave it back. I played the whole shift without a stick," Johnson said.
And then it was Jesse's time again.
"Those were my first goals in the national team," Joensuu said, and sighed.
"Nice to get them now," he added.
The tournament continues for Finland with a semi-final rematch against Russia on Saturday. Slovakia will play the winner of Sweden vs. Czech Republic in the late semi-final on Saturday at 18:30.