SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 16: Drew Doughty #8 of Canada celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day nine of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It wasn't the most spectacular contest, but Canada won the war of attrition against Finland on Sunday as Drew Doughty scored twice in a 2-1 victory.
The win gave Canada the third seed in the upcoming quarterfinals, while Finland had to settle for fourth place as Tuomo Ruutu's goal was not enough to overcome the Canadian squad.
The game got off to a bit of a slow start as both teams tried to feel one another out in a crucial game in the standings. The Finns had several good chances that Price had to stop early, but the possession time favored the Canadians in the early stages. That possession didn’t translate into many chances in the opening minutes, but it did set the tone for a good chunk of the game.
Canada did suffer a really scary moment in the first period when Patrice Bergeron took a one-timed slap shot from Shea Weber right into the midsection, and he immediately skated off the ice. The moment brought back memories of Bergeron playing through the 2013 Stanley Cup Final with broken ribs and a hole in his lung, but the Selke-nominated forward was back on the ice in fairly short order after the incident.
Later in the frame, it appeared that the Canadians took the lead. Alex Pietrangelo capped off a nice possession for his squad with a shot from the point, but it hit traffic in front and landed right on top of the net. Rick Nash took his stick and whacked the net with it, and the puck rolled in off of Tuukka Rask’s back and into the cage. The officials reviewed the play, but ruled that Nash had touched the puck with his stick, making it a high-stick play and negating the goal.
Just a few minutes later though, the Canadians took advantage of their first power play of the game and actually took the lead. On a brilliant bit of passing on their power play, the puck worked its way from the corner and out to the point, where Drew Doughty fired a snap shot over Rask’s shoulder for his third goal of the tournament. The tally gave his team a 1-0 lead, and they were able to ride that momentum through the rest of the frame.
In the second period, the Canadians continued to dominate the pace of the game, and got several great opportunities in the early going. Chris Kunitz had the first one off of a gorgeous pass from Sidney Crosby, but his one-time wrist shot was somehow gloved down by Rask. A little bit later, Jonathan Toews fell down behind the net, but he was able to make a wraparound shot attempt as he fell to the ice, but Rask smothered it in the crease to keep the game at 1-0.
After a period full of domination of possession time by the Canadians, the Finns finally broke through late in the frame to tie the game up. Olli Jokinen passed the puck out to the point, and Jussi Jokinen fired a shot toward the goal with Tuomo Ruutu setting a screen in front. Ruutu somehow was able to get his stick blade on the puck and directed it past Carey Price to tie things up at 1-1 with two minutes remaining in the period.
The third period got off to a really sluggish start, with both teams struggling to get anything on net. The neutral zone grew more congested as the period went on, with the Finns seemingly content with jamming up the potent Canadian offense, and the defending gold medalists struggling with strategy in terms of dealing with it. Through the first half of the period, Canada only managed two shots on goal, while Finland only had one tester for Price to handle.
As the period progressed, Canada had more difficulties in adjusting to the Finland tap, but in the closing minutes, they finally started to get some chances. Pietrangelo hit a shot that skipped off the ice and made for a really interesting save by Rask, but he was somehow able to save it. After winning the ensuing face-off, Crosby fired another shot in on the Boston Bruins goaltender, and Rask was still able to blocker it away.
In the final minute, Doughty got another great chance thanks to some good puck movement, but Rask was able to flash the leg pad to stop the shot. A moment later, Marc Edouard Vlasic came skating through the zone with a ton of open ice, but his wrist shot was deflected up and over the glass to keep the game tied.
In the overtime period, both teams got a couple of good chances, but it was ultimately Doughty that ended it. Jeff Carter brought the puck up the ice, and passed it to Doughty in the neutral zone. Doughty then used Mikael Granlund as a screen against Rask, and he fired the puck towards the net and through Rask to give the Canadians a 2-1 victory.
Both the Canadians and Finns got byes into the quarterfinals despite the outcome, with Canada getting the winner of the Switzerland-Latvia game, while Finland will face the winner of the Russia-Norway game. The quarterfinals begin on Wednesday.