Gold Medal Game Set at Worlds as Finland Beats Russia and Canada Edges USA

The gold medal game at the 2016 IIHF World Championship has been revealed and it will not involve any New Jersey Devils players or personnel.

Canada will take on Finland to decide the gold and silver medals, while the US will take on Russia for bronze. Both games will be played tomorrow.

The early game played today at the Ice Palace in Moscow featured the hosts, Russia against the Finns, who had knocked off Denmark 5-1 to advance to the semi-final round. The Russians nabbed the early lead when Sergei Shirokov scored at the 2:52 mark of the first period. Ivan Telegin and Alexei Marchenko had the assists. Russia looked to be in command on home ice and it seemed a formality that they would be playing for gold.

But the Finns soon showed why they, too, are considered a powerhouse in international hockey. It began innocently enough. Marchenko was called for a tripping minor four minutes into the second period. About a minute and a half into that power play, Sebastian Aho scored to knot the game at one. Mikael Granlund and Esa Lindell had had the helpers on the game tying goal.

Jussi Jokinen added an even strength goal to put the Finns up 2-1 midway through the second. Patrik Laine had the lone assist on that goal, which would go on to be the game winner.

Two minutes and nine seconds after the go ahead goal, Alex Ovechkin took an interference penalty to put Finland back on the power play. The Finns would connect with the man advantage to take a 3-1 lead when Aho scored his second power play goal of the game (assists to Jarno Koskiranta and Mikko Koivu).

The third period saw Finland take two penalties and draw one from Russia. The second of the Finns’ penalties came with just about four minutes left in the game when Juuso Hietanen was called for high sticking.

The Russians tried once unsuccessfully to get goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky off the ice for the 6-on-4 advantage. They finally succeeded almost half way through the penalty but it was to no avail, as time simply ran out on Russia. Finland came away with the 3-1 victory and became the first team to qualify for the gold medal game.

Bobrovsky made 13 saves on just 16 shots from the Finns. Finnish goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 28 saves on 29 shots.

The line on Sergei Kalinin read a minus-1 rating with 8:04 of ice time over 17 shifts.

In the other semi-final game, Team USA fell to Canada in a close one 4-3.

Canada jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first when Brendan Gallagher scored at 8:59 (assists to Boone Jenner and Sam Reinhart) and then again at 18:02 when Brad Marchand scored (Cody Ceci had the lone assist on that goal).

So the US went into the second period down two with quite a hill to climb, but would get some help from a likely source and an unlikely one as they clawed back in.

First, the likely source: Auston Matthews scored on the power play just 1:14 into the period from Chris Wideman and Dylan Larkin. Canada’s Derick Brassard had taken a delay of game penalty with about 30 seconds left in the first period, setting that goal up.

Now for the unlikely source for a goal: the Devils’ David Warsofsky tied things up at two (from Brock Nelson and Hudson Fasching) at 3:57 of the second.

Then, to make things a little more unlikely, the Americans took a 3-2 lead at 8:25 when Tyler Motte scored (assists to Dylan Larkin and JT Compher). It seemed like the US might be able to squeak by Canada and into a place in the gold medal game.

But the Canadians were not done. First, Frank Vatrano took a tripping call at 14:40 of the second. It took less than a minute for Brassard to make up for his penalty earlier in the game that allowed the Americans back in the game. He scored from Ryan O’Reilly and Corey Perry to tie things up again at three.

Then, the Canadians put the hammer down just 1:34 into the third period when Ryan Ellis beat Keith Kinkaid to give Canada a 4-3 lead that they would not relinquish (assists to Ryan Murray and Connor McDavid).

The USA would have one more chance with the man advantage when Mark Scheifele was called for goaltender interference midway through the third, but they would not capitalize.

Kinkaid made 23 saves on 27 shots for the Americans, while Canada’s Cam Talbot was 30-for-33.

For Devils playing for coach John Hynes, Steve Santini was a minus-1 in 7:48 of ice time over nine shifts. Miles Wood was a minus-1 in 9:58 over 11 shifts. Warsofsky had Team USA’s second goal of the game, had two shots on goal, and was a minus-1 all in 18:45 of ice time on 23 shifts.

So, for Canada and Finland, it is on to the gold medal game, where each team is guaranteed to medal. The US will play Russia for the bronze medal, both games take place tomorrow at the Ice Palace in Moscow.

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