CANADA EDGED BY FINLAND IN WORLDS OPENER
KOŠICE, Slovakia – Matt Murray (Thunder Bay, Ont./Pittsburgh, NHL) was solid in net with 24 saves and Jonathan Marchessault (Cap-Rouge, Que./Vegas, NHL) struck on the power play, but Canada’s National Men’s Team was downed 3-1 by Finland on Friday in the opening game at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.
Mark Stone (Winnipeg, Man./Vegas, NHL) and Shea Theodore (Langley, B.C./Vegas, NHL) chipped in assists on Marchessault’s marker.
The two nations traded attacking momentum throughout an opening 20 minutes that saw Finland rack up an 11-6 shots advantage over Canada.
The Finns opened the scoring at the 6:47 mark when Kappo Kakko went to the backhand on the breakaway to beat Murray, but Marchessault responded on the power play at 8:03 by sniping a wrist shot off a perfect cross-ice feed from Stone.
Canada seized the territorial edge in the second period as its active forecheck kept Finland hemmed in the defensive zone for multiple extended sequences. Finland’s cycle attack came alive again in the dying minutes of the frame, but a couple of solid saves from Murray kept the game squared at the end of 40 minutes.
Arttu Ilomaki and Toni Rajala teamed up for a power-play goal at 2:36 of the third period by taking advantage of a bouncing puck in front of Murray’s crease. The Canadian goaltender made a great reaction save on Rajala at the side of the net, but he could not deny Ilomaki on the rebound from the slot.
Canada pressed ferociously for the equalizer, and came close to tying the game as Anthony Mantha (Longueuil, Que./Detroit, NHL) was robbed by the pad of Kevin Lankinen on a one-on-one chance on the doorstep with time running out.
Kakko confirmed the win for Finland with his empty-netter with 34 seconds remaining.
Canada will attempt to bounce back on Sunday against Great Britain (2:15 p.m. ET/11:15 a.m. PT).