"I thought it was a good game," said Finnish captain Filppula. "I think we played well from the beginning. You never know how these games are going to go but I think we were prepared and we got the win that we wanted."
For Great Britain, though, this was a third successive game without a goal. After tying 3-3 with Norway in regulation, GB's offence has come up blank against Sweden, the USA and now Finland. Jussi Olkinuora was the latest goalie to enjoy a shutout, stopping 10 shots to post his second shutout in Tampere. With Latvia and Austria left to play, British survival hopes hang on finding some scoring in those last two games.
Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen, whose early career included a stint in charge of former British Superleague franchise Newcastle Riverkings around the turn of the century, welcomed two new men to his team for this game. Dallas Stars defensive duo Esa Lindell and Miro Heiskanen arrived in Tampere yesterday and resumed their NHL partnership for their country. In addition, Maenalanen returned after suspension, with Jere Innala making way for him.
For Heiskanen, it was a comfortable start to tournament life. "I felt good the whole time," he said. "I had a good sleep last night so the travel wasn't too bad and it was great to play in front of these fans."
And Bowns was called into action early on when Filppula chased down a lofted pass and advanced beyond the British D. The goalie had the answers on that occasion but remained busy as Finland dominated the early exchanges.
However, while there was little doubt that the host nation was good value for its lead with Niklas Friman shot home in the seventh minute, there was understandable frustration from GB at a big deflection of Brett Perlini’s skate to wrong-foot Bowns on that opening goal.
"It was a lucky goal but we felt like we needed to be very sharp right from the beginning," Friman said. "We battled hard, stayed on the puck and pressured them in the offensive zone. That was the plan and we did it very well."
Bowns added to his highlight reel midway through the frame with a big stop at the back door to deny Filppula once again after Heiskanen carved a swathe through the defence.
"To be honest, I thought I had him there but not this time," Filppula said. "It was a great save."
But Bowns was wrongfooted by another deflection as Finland doubled its lead when Juuso Hietanen’s point shot clipped David Phillips’ thigh on its way into the net.
"I think we had four unlucky bounces off our own guys, but that's hockey," the goalie said. "I didn't think it was necessarily a 6-0 game.
"Obviously Finland deserved to win, they were much better than us, but I thought we battled hard. A team of that calibre, they're stronger and faster and they're always going to pin you in."
Little was seen of Britain as an offensive force in the first period but the start of the second brought a flurry of activity for Jussi Olkinuora to contend with. Perlini saw the route to goal open up for him, only to be denied by the goalie and later in the frame a quick breakaway from Robert Dowd gave Ben Lake a chance. However, the Belfast forward’s attempt to stick handle to the net went awry. Play continued but Sam Jones’ long shot was comfortable for the Finnish netminder.
"We had the puck most of the time today so it was pretty quiet for a goalie," Olkinuora admitted. "Overall, I'm really happy with the way the guys are playing. It was fun to watch today."
At the other end, the Finns were more clinical. Filppula got past Bowns at the third time of asking when he steered Mikael Granlund’s feed over the British goalie’s shoulder for 3-0. And right after the Ben Lake chance, Finland showed how to execute a quick breakaway. Friman’s stretch pass sent Armia clear and his pace took him away from the defence to win his duel with Bowns.
Discipline was always going to be a big factor for Great Britain in this game, with the Finnish power play hugely effective in this tournament. It took 28 minutes for the home crowd to see their heroes with an extra man here and when the PP finally arrived it could not yield a goal. Bowns impressed once again with an eye-catching leap to deny Sakari Manninen on the best Finnish opportunity.
Finland, too, kept it clean. Armia's tripping penalty after 43 minutes was his team's first and only infringement. Britain enjoyed a rare respite from defensive duties but, save for one combination involving Matthew Myers and Perlini, posed little attacking threat.
At the other end, Maenalanen added a fifth when he tipped home a point shot from Lindell, underlining the extent of Finland's dominance midway through the third period. And there was more to come when a power play saw Rajala make it 6-0 with a point shot that took a big deflection off Dallas Ehrhardt on its way into the net.
"There's a lot of good stuff that we can bring to the next game," concluded Heiskanen. "Of course that's a different opponent but we've got to keep moving forwards."