2012 IIHF World Championship: Finland beats Switzerland 5-2

By IndepthAfrica
In Hockey
May 8th, 2012
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HELSINKI – Make it three in a row for the hosts. Switzerland pushed Finland, and pushed them hard, but after 60 minutes of play, it was Finland that emerged as the winner, 5-2.

Jarkko Immonen and Valtteri Filppula scored a pair of goals each, Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves in Finland’s net.

Oddly enough, Finland and Switzerland had played just one World Championship games against each other since the turn of the century. In the lone 21st century game in 2007, Finland beat Switzerland 2-0.

Considering that, and the fact that Finland had won their two first games in this tournament 1-0 wins, to night’s game was expected to be a low-scoring one. But no.

The tone was set in the first shift, with a battle of the captains – Mikko Koivu and Mark Streit – behind the Swiss net. Then, seconds later, Finland’s Mikko Mäenpää took a hooking minor in his first shift, at 0:36. But when they couldn’t beat Kari Lehtonen in Finland’s goal, it was Finland who scored the important first goal instead, on their first power play.

Daniel Rubin received a tripping minor at 6:21, and that’s all Finland needed. Jarkko Immonen won the faceoff, Mikael Granlund sent the puck to Anssi Salmela on the blue line, he passed it to Janne Niskala who one-timed it towards the Swiss goal. His shot missed the net, but the pucked bounced to the front of the net on the other side, and Immonen slammed it in for 1-0.

Suddenly, the tournament took a new turn for Finland. This time around, even the Finnish goalie got beat. It was Andreas Ambühl, at 5:44 into the second period, who shot a low wrist shot that beat Lehtonen and tied the game.

But in the next shift, Finland took the lead again. Joonas Järvinen took a slapshot from the blueline, and Reto Berra made the first save. Leo Komarov was the first one to the rebound, and the second one, which he lifted to the back of the net just 21 seconds after the Swiss goal.

It was Switzerland that controlled the game most of the second period, but with 3:15 remaining in the period, Immonen got another chance when he and Granlund forechecked the puck to Finland in the Swiss zone. Immonen got the puck at the bottom of the faceoff circle and lifted it quickly over Berra’s shoulder with a backhand shot.

In the shift that followed, Jesse Joensuu got a checking to the head penalty. Mark Streit quarterbacked the Swiss power play, and after a few passes between him and Roman Wick, Streit fired a slap shot from the point. Lehtonen made the initial save, but the rebound went straight to Wick, who shot it in through the Finnish goalie’s five-hole.

Switzerland controlled the game in the third period, but Valtteri Filppula scored his first of the tournament when Goran Bezina was in the penalty box. Juuso Hietanen ripped a slapshot from the point, Berra’s rebound ended up in Jussi Jokinen’s stick, but instead of just slamming it in, he made a two-metre pass to his right, and Filppula had an easy task to shoot the puck into an empty net at 9:46.

In his next shift, Filppula repeated the trick, but this time from the left. Ossi Väänänen’s shot got redirected twice on its way to the net straight to Filppula who made it 5-2, with 8:04 remaining in the game.

Finland still has a perfect 3-0 record in the tournament, Switzerland is 2-1 after tonight.

RISTO PAKARINEN

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