Ok, Canada. We see your Russian routing and raise you a Finnish filleting.
In advancing to the gold medal game on Sunday, the U.S. team put on a first-period show reminiscent of what their arch-rivals did a couple nights earlier against Russia. In fact, the Americans did it even better.
When the first 20 minutes was over, Patrick Kane had two goals and the U.S. team led 6-0, while Finnish starting goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff was sent to the proverbial showers after giving up the first four. The rest of the game was academic. The Americans won 6-1.
It might seem like a day ago to the Finns, but they actually started the game in good fashion. Led by former Hawk Tuomo Ruutu, Team Finland spent the first two minutes in the U.S. zone and looked to be a tough competitor, but then came Kiprusoff’s biggest mistake. He came out to play a puck in front of him on an easy dump-in, but he misplayed it onto Ryan Malone’s stick, who had a near empty-net goal with Kiprusoff way out of position. The momentum changed for the next 18 minutes.
Kane got into the action with the U.S. already up 3-0. He created a turnover near his own blueline with a nifty poke check, and took the puck into the offensive zone. As the sequence developed, Kiprusoff went down, Kane picked up the rebound of his own shot, and then hammered a backhander home put the Americans up 4-0. That would be it for the Calgary Flames' starting goaltender. Nicklas Backstrom took over but with little improvement.
Kane scored the American’s fifth goal of the first period after yet another Finnish turnover. He came down on Backstrom on a two-on-one and dented the back of the net with his patent snap shot. Kane played his best game of the tournament, finishing with those two goals on five shots in 17:04 of ice time. He was simply more noticeable on the ice, and with the puck, then in previous contests.
Turnovers were the name of the game in that dominant first period. Finland kept handing the puck over and the Americans kept taking advantage. They’ll need one more game with some of that thievery on Sunday to bring home the gold.
One half of the dream rematch in is place. Now it's Canada’s turn to try and raise the stakes for the ultimate Winter Olympics men’s hockey tournament finale.