Canada’s National Men’s Team fell 4-0 to Finland

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Canada lost its first game of the 2016 IIHF World Championship, dropping a 4-0 decision to Finland, despite outshooting the opposition 21-19

WENDY GRAVES

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Despite outshooting its opposition and being perfect on the penalty kill, Canada’s National Men’s Team fell 4-0 to Finland on Tuesday to finish second in Group B at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.

The loss ended Canada’s 16-game winning streak at the men’s worlds. It also marked the first time the team had been shut out since 2006, when it lost 5-0 to Finland in the bronze medal game.

After allowing only four goals in its previous six games, Canada gave up as many to a Finnish team that completed the preliminary round 7-0-0-0.

Canada went 6-0-0-1 and now faces Sweden in the quarter-finals.

There was a sense this could be a low-scoring game; coming in Canada and Finland had surrendered a combined 10 goals in 12 games.

Canada did its best to put Finland on its heels early, firing six shots on net over the first four minutes. Its tournament-best penalty kill – operating at a 94 percent success rate – didn’t allow Finland to set up anything in the offensive zone on its first man-advantage.

The Canadians went five for five on the penalty kill. It was at even strength where things went wrong.

A three-goal second period gave Finland control of the game.

Lack of communication deep in the Canadian zone led to the first Finnish goal. Cam Talbot (Caledonia, Ont./Edmonton, NHL) played the puck behind his net, unaware of a forechecking Mikko Rantanen closing in on him. Rantenen sent the puck to the point for Tommi Kivisto, who took a few strides in from the blue line and beat Talbot with a shot through traffic.

It marked the first time Canada had trailed at the worlds since its opening game against the United States.

Ten minutes later Leo Komarov’s shot from just inside the face-off circle went under Talbot’s glove arm and trickled over the goal line.

Less than three minutes after that the lead was three. Mika Pyorala sent a centering pass to Sebastian Aho. Aho hit the post, but Pyorala followed the play and put the puck into the open net.

Finland added one more early in the third. Talbot stopped Pyorala’s shot from the wing, but sent a big rebound out to Jamo Koskiranta.

Canada finally got a power play opportunity of its own 8:21 into the third period, but was unable to use the man-advantage to break up Mikko Koskinen’s shutout.

Canada outshot Finland 21-19.

Quotes:

Ryan O’Reilly (Varna, Ont./Buffalo, NHL):

“We came out the way we wanted to, and possession was a huge part for us, but we talked going into the third period that we had to have a little more of a net presence – getting the puck to the net and winning the battles in front. It’s definitely frustrating. It’s not what we wanted, but we have to give credit to [Finland]. They played better than us tonight and we need to find a way to put the puck in the net early. To give a team a lead like that, it’s very tough to come back from. For us, it’s a good wake-up call. We have to regroup and get ready for Sweden now.”

 

Matt Duchene (Haliburton, Ont./Colorado, NHL):

“I thought we played a good game. I thought we dominated early on – they didn’t have the puck in our end until the five-minute mark in the first period. We did a lot of good things, we just weren’t able to score. Their goalie was their best player tonight, and they struck first – had we had the first one, it might have been the opposite. They would have had to open up more. It’s a good experience for us, a little adversity, and bottom-line: we win the next three, we win the gold medal, and that’s what we’re looking at.”

Head coach Bill Peters:

“Congratulations to Finland on winning Pool B here in St. Petersburg; [I give them] full credit for their win. Now we have to go on a three-game winning streak, starting with Sweden on Thursday.”

 

Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 19 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games gold-medallists were also considered world champions. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.

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