Finland wins 4-3 over Czechs
Kapanen gets hat trick; Finns playoff-bound
"I have to credit my teammates because they were the ones finding me with passes," said Kapanen. "Today was the day that the pucks went in and I'm happy for that."
A late comeback attempt in the third period fell just short, dropping the Czechs to 1W-2L.
Defensive miscues from the Czech Republic allowed Finland to jump to a 4-0 lead, and though they dominated the shots category for much of the game, the Czechs were unable to get any pucks past Finnish goaltender Juuse Saros until late in the third period.
"In the first two period the game was not good for us," said Czech forward David Kampf. "In the third we wanted to fight our way back and we almost made it, but we have to play a more complete game."
The Czech Republic controlled the play through most of the first period, outshooting the Finns 22-5. But it was Finland that lit the lamp when Mike Ilvonen drew the Czech defence away from the middle of the ice before passing the puck to an open Kasperi Kapanen at the blue line, who skated in alone on net and went high for the game’s first goal.
The Finns’ second goal came early in the second period. Alex Lintuniemi threw the puck deep into the Czech zone from the blue line, bouncing it off the glass behind the net and directly onto the stick of forward Saku Kinnunen, sitting alone beside the net with no Czech player covering. Kinnunen just had to pass it in front to Joose Antonen, also uncovered, coming in on the play in front of the net for the easy goal.
Kapanen got his second goal of the game at 11:49 of the second period. Otto Rauhala won the puck cleanly on a faceoff in the Czech zone, passing it back to Kapanen who fired a wristshot under goaltender Rene Svoboda’s glove. He followed up just over four minutes later with his third goal to complete the hat trick, the assist coming from Juuso Ikonen.
A short-handed goal early in the third period breathed new life into the Czech Republic, after a Finnish giveaway on the powerplay led to a rush the other way, closing out with the score from Rob Lubos. The Czechs cut the lead to 4-2 when David Kampf fired a shot that snuck in past a screened Saros, and Jakub Vrana scored with under two minutes to go to make the final minute a nervous one for the Finns, but Saros held the fort as time ran out on the Czech Republic comeback.
With the win Finland is assured of a playoff spot, and will play the United States in their final game of the preliminary round. The Czechs will face Russia tomorrow night at the Bolshoy.