Final Score: Canada 2, Finland 1 (OT)
First Period Recap: It was clear from the outset that Finland wanted to prove that they were capable of playing solid team defense as well as score goals, something they had done in plenty in their previous two games. However, Canada is a much better hockey team than Norway or Austria, and this would be no easy task.
Early on, it looked like Canada had taken the lead when Rick Nash batted a puck over the line after it came to rest on top of the net. However, video review determined that to be illegal and the referee waved it off to keep the teams level.
And the Canadians didn't stop pouring on the pressure from there. Despite Finland getting a few great looks, including one from Leo Komarov from in close, Canada got the far better of the possession.
The Finns rose to the occasion defensively and held the Canadians scoreless through the first 13 minutes.
Then with Jarkko Immonen off for interference, Drew Doughty opened the scoring to give Canada a 1-0 lead. On a recovered rebound, Doughty let a rather innocuous looking shot go from the top of the left circle that found its way past Tukka Rask.
Other than this goal, however, the period was held pretty even with a slight advantage I'd say towards Canada.
The frame ended with the shots tied 8-8, the fewest shots Canada had been allowed in a single period thus far this tournament.
Second Period Recap: The second period was a lot stronger in favor of team Canada who managed nine shots in the frame, but Tukka Rask held them scoreless with a great performance in net.
For the most part the Finns did exactly what you need to do in order to defend on the big ice: held the Canadians to the outside and limited the number of quality shots against.
Finland earned a few chances of their own, but Carey Price held firm and kept the Canadians in front.
Until exactly two minutes remained in the period, that is.
Patrick Marleau flubbed on a loose puck in the middle of his own high slot, which caromed to Ossi Vaananen, who sent a pass that was one-timed by Jussi Jokinen from the point. Tuomo Ruutu tipped the shot which bounced past Carey Price to tie the game at 1-1.
Perhaps now very undeservedly, the period ended tied with the Canadians getting nine shots in the period to only four for Finland.
Third Period Recap: The Canadians really took hold in the third period, at times putting the Finns under siege in their own end, but kept to their now very obvious game plan perfectly.
Canada's top offensive threats (which could be classified as literally everybody, but I digress) found it very tough to get into any sort of an open patch of ice, and Finland kept the physical play up big time.
Combine that with numerous shot blocks and smart positioning, and you have a Canadian offense that got particularly frustrated.
Canada's coach Mike Babcock quipped "I think when you put a whole bunch of skilled players together, you have a tendency to be on the outside and having the puck and you think you're doing something. You are, you're hanging on to the puck and you're hanging on to the puck and you're hanging on to the puck, but nothing's going on. You have to get these lessons, and that's what people don't understand."
The period ended with eight more shots for Canada, and only two for Finland, but with the score still tied at 1-1, the game was headed to overtime.
Overtime Summary: By nature of the score being tied when the third period final horn sounded, the Russians were doomed to the relegation round, being forced to play one additional game on their road to gold. That meant this game would also be for the final two spots, as the Canadians could no longer catch the Americans, who had finished off the Slovenians 5-0 earlier in the day.
And it didn't take too long for the Canadians to finally break down the Finnish wall. Two and a half minutes in to the session Drew Doughty (yet again) took a rather innocent looking wrist shot from the left circle that found its way under Tukka Rask's leg pad and into the back of the net. It looked almost identical to his goal that opened the scoring, and it put Canada atop group B with eight points.
It was Canada's second shot of the extra session, bringing their game total to 27, while Finland was held to only 15 in the entire 62 minutes.
The Good: Finland once again proved their doubters wrong by stepping up and playing a brilliant game when called upon. Though their high-powered offense got only one through Canadian goaltender Carey Price, the defense stepped up and kept Canada, arguably the best offense of the tournament, to only two goals. The Finns frustrated the Canadians, which caused Matt Duchene to stupidly quip:
Matt Duchene on the big ice: "This is why the NHL should never go to a big ice, it'll take the scoring out of the game."— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 16, 2014
Just tossing out some numbers for you: through 16 games in the round-robin stages, there have been 90 goals scored. That's an average of exactly five goals per game. The NHL on the other hand is averaging only 2.7 per game this season. I know the NHL doesn't have Austria, Norway, or Slovenia, but on that same note it does have the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and Calgary Flames, so despite the small sample size I think the point stands: big ice = offense, particularly on power plays which have been maintaining possession and control so much easier.
The Bad: Canada showed some serious weakness in this game, struggling heavily to score against an injury-depleted Finnish lineup whose only real true strength thus far this tournament has come from their offense. Their inability to finish off chances cost them the number-one seed in the tournament and made their route to a gold medal a little bit more interesting, as now they theoretically must go through the United States in order to even make the big game.
The Ugly: Despite all the many accolades he has from Canadians (and some people from other nations) as the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby has been held scoreless in this tournament, having only a single assist this tournament: the secondary on Doughty's first period marker in this game. His linemate Chris Kunitz has been held pointless.