Finland beat Russia to reach world final
MOSCOW – Finland battled back from a goal down to claim a place in the world ice hockey championship final after beating hosts Russia 3-1 in Moscow on Saturday.
Finland’s players celebrate after winning the Finland vs Russia semifinal game 3-1 at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Moscow on May 21, 2016
Sebastian Aho scored two goals, while Mikko Koskinen produced 28 saves to send Finland through to the title match for the first time since 2014, when they finished runners-up to Russia.
In Sunday’s final, Finland, who have won all nine games at the tournament, will face either the USA or Canada who are playing their semi-final later on Saturday.
“I feel really great being in the final,” Jokerit Helsinki defenceman Topi Jaakola said.
“It was a huge game for us and we did everything right. After we were two goals up our goal was to stay active and it worked perfect.
“It doesn’t matter who we face in the final as we try to focus on our game. We try to play better and better in every game and we’re set to keep on doing that.”
Group B winners Finland, who downed Russia in the semi-finals of both the 2007 and 2011 world championsips, came to Moscow full of confidence, with five of their players among the event’s top 10 scorers.
But Russia put the Finns under pressure in the opening minutes and SKA St Petersburg forward Sergei Shirokov put the home team into the lead 2:52 into the game, sending home a rebound after Finland goaltender Koskinen, Shirokov’s club team-mate, parried his initial close-range shot.
The 18-year-old Aho pulled it level 5:34 into the second period with a close-range slapshot when Detroit Red Wings defenceman Alexei Marchenko was in the sin bin.
Florida Panthers winger Jussi Jokinen put Finland into the lead 15:50 into the second period when he fired the puck in off the post from Patrik Laine’s assist.
Aho scored his second of the match with 1:45 remaining before the second intermission to make it 3-1 for Finland with another powerplay effort.
Russia head coach Oleg Znarok substituted his goalkeeper for a sixth field player with three minutes to go in the third period but it was to no avail.