GAME STATS: FINLAND 3, CANADA 2 (SO)
RIGA, Latvia – Brandon Pirri (Toronto, Ont./Chicago, NHL) and Maxime
Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Anaheim, NHL) scored goals, but Canada’s National
Men’s Team dropped a 3-2 decision to Finland in a shootout Tuesday to close
out the preliminary round at the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
The Canadians could have wrapped up a quarterfinal spot with a win, but the
single point means they still have a chance to advance; if the
Germany-Latvia game later Tuesday ends in regulation time, Canada will
claim the fourth and final playoff spot in Group B.
“I thought we played well today and there were stretches where we were taking the game to them,” said Canadian captain Adam Henrique (Burford, Ont./Anaheim, NHL). “[Finland is] a good team; they responded well early in the second period, but I thought we stuck to our game. It was unfortunate to give up the lead late and lose in the shootout, but again we’ll be watching tonight and hopefully get the results to be able to move on.”
Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, Sask./Arizona, NHL) finished with 29 saves in his
best performance of the tournament, including a diving glove stop off a
puck that ricocheted off a linesperson in the dying minutes of the third
period with the game tied.
The teams went end-to-end during a frenetic five minutes of overtime that
didn’t feature a single whistle, with Nick Paul (Mississauga, Ont./Ottawa,
NHL) missing a Canadian win by just inches.
Pirri scored on Canada’s first attempt of the shootout before Oliwer Kaski,
Saku Maenalainen and Ruotsalainen made good on three-straight attempts to
put the Canadians on the brink.
Henrique kept Canada alive in Round 4 and
Kuemper turned aside Iiro Pakarinen, but Finnish netminder Jussi Olkinuora
stopped Connor Brown to secure the extra point.
It’s the third shootout between the countries at the worlds; Canada ended
its 33-year gold medal drought with a 2-1 victory in 1994 before Finland
returned the favour with a 4-3 win in a qualification-round game in 2009.
Canada came out absolutely flying in the first period, posting the first
six shots of the game, and took a quick lead just 90 seconds in; Pirri
jumped off the bench and one-timed a feed from Gabe Vilardi (Kingston,
Ont./Los Angeles, NHL) past Olkinuora.
The Finns struck back only 71 seconds into the second period when Arttu
Ruotsalainen snuck a quick shot under the glove of Kuemper, but Comtois
shoveled in a power-play goal from the top of the crease before the end of
the middle frame to restore the Canadian lead.
Canada looked to be on its way to the regulation win it needed, but Anton
Lundell powered his way down the right wing before swinging a backhand pass
to Ruotsalainen, who potted his second of the game with four minutes to go
to tie things up.
The Canadians finished with a 34-32 edge in shots on goal in a
back-and-forth affair; Canada outshot the Finns 18-5 in the first period
before Finland returned the favour by a 16-6 margin in the second. Shots
were even 10-10 through the third period and overtime.