"It was a pretty smooth finish, huh?" Maatta said. "He made a great move. He beat his guy, his defenceman turned his back. It was a pretty easy pass to make, and Anton made a great play after that."
The dramatic victory has several key ramifications to the tangle that is the Group B standings.
First, the win gives Finland 15 points and a grip on first place for the time being, three more than the U.S.. Second, the loss leaves Latvia in the precarious position of having to defeat Germany on Tuesday to have any chance of qualifying for the playoff round. They currently have nine points, tied with Germany and Canada. Only one of those teams will advance. Third, the result keeps Canada's hopes alive of also qualifying, and sets up a Finland-Canada game on Tuesday which Canada must win.
Latvia will have a decided advantage for that game, however, as fans will be allowed in the arena for the first time this tournament.
"It was a really important point for us," enthused Martins Dzierkals, who scored both Latvian goals. "We still have one ore game ahead of us, and it's going to be a huge one, but we're lucky and happy there will be a little crowd allowed in the stands. We're excited for it."
"It’s big," Maatta said of Finland's advancing to the quarter-finals. "Nowadays, when we go to a tournament, we want to win. For us in the round robin we want to get better in every game. We don’t look at the scores so much, we look at our games. Tonight there were some good things, but I think we can get back to our own game. I didn’t think we played that good of a game today."
"I saw that we sort of had a three-on-two and my job was to drive to the net," Dzierkals explained. "I saw Lauris make a shot, and I tipped it. At first, I couldn't believe it was in but it was really nice to get that one, especially late in the third period."
Finland broke the ice just 3:06 into the game on a fluky goal. Captain Marko Anttila barrelled down the right wing and fired a quick shot on goal. Kalnins made the save but kicked the puck out with his right pad. It hit the knee of Saku Maenalanen and bounced in. Video review confirmed the puck was not directed in, so the goal stood.
The early goal allowed Finland to play their defence-first game, which meant a great deal of play between the blue lines. Slowly but surely, though, the Latvians, made incursions into the Finland end and started to move the puck around. They were rewarded at 18:39 after an offensive zone faceoff win.
Defenceman Mikael Seppala made a bad clearing in the slot, and the puck landed on the stick of Dzierkals. His quick shot through a maze of legs in front beat Sateri, tying the game and giving the Latvians hope of a key victory.
The Latvians dominated most of the middle period and had the two best chances in the early going. Dzierkals had a close-in chance but was stopped by Sateri, and a while later Roberts Bukarts made a fine dash down the left side that almost succeeded.
But with five minutes to go, Kalnins elected to play a simple shot rather than freeze the puck, and from that simple decision the tide turned. The Finns had several good chances on the play but failed to score, but off the next faceoff win they went ahead 2-1.
Ville Pokka’s quick point shot was beautifully tipped by Iiro Pakarinen at 15:39, and a period the Latvians might have taken the lead in instead saw them trailing.
Nevertheless, Latvia was the better team in the third and was full marks for the tying goal. In the OT, both teams had their chances, but in the end Lundell was the hero.