World hockey championship: Finland tops Canada in preliminary finale
Canada to face Sweden in quarter-finals
Canada forward Matt Duchene was given a bitter reminder of what it's like to lose at the world hockey championship.
After riding a perfect 10-0 record to a gold medal last year in Prague, the Canadians rolled through the first six games of this year's round-robin before Tuesday's 4-0 loss to unbeaten Finland at Yubileiny Arena.
"We're not used to standing on the blue line, listening to another team's anthem. I haven't done that in forever," said Duchene, who was a member of the gold-medal team at the 2015 world championship as well as Canada's undefeated squad at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "I hated every minute of it and I think everyone else did too. I think we're going to use that as motivation going forward."
With the loss, Canada (6-1, 18 points) finished second in the Group B standings with 18 points while the Finns (7-0) had the maximum 21 points. Canada will now face Sweden on Thursday in St. Petersburg in quarter-final play while Finland plays Denmark.
Finns score three goals in the second
Canada got off to a good start, outshooting the Finns eight to five and controlling the play in a scoreless first period, but Finland broke the game open in the second with three goals on seven shots.
"We started off the game pretty well and we were doing all the right things," said Canadian goalie Cam Talbot. "We were hemming them in and we had a lot of good chances. Their goalie (Mikko Koskinen) made the saves when he needed to and I didn't.
Defenceman Tommi Kivisto opened the scoring just past the six minute mark of the middle frame when he threaded a wrist shot from the blue line past a screened Talbot. That ended the Canadian goalie's shutout streak at 108 minutes 34 seconds.
At 16:03, Talbot was beaten by a slapshot from the left circle by Leo Komarov to the delight of the pro-Finnish crowd. Mika Pyorala extended the lead to 3-0 and Jarno Kuliranta rounded out the scoring early in the third.
Finnish star and top draft prospect Patrik Laine was hobbled in the second period after getting tangled up with Canadian captain Corey Perry, but was able to return to the game despite favouring his leg.
"You can't avoid those things and you just have to keep going," said 18-year-old Laine, who acknowledged that the Canadian team played him physically all night. "Maybe they just tried to piss me off because I'm young and, in my opinion, a pretty good player."
Canada's previous loss was in 2014
Canada's last defeat at this tournament was also to Finland, a 3-2 loss in the quarter-final of the 2014 event in Minsk, Belarus.
Canada defenceman Morgan Rielly was a member of the 2014 team and remembers that game.
"They play extremely hard. They love the game," Rielly said. "They have great fans. They were just able to create more chances than us and I guess that's kind of the bottom line. Their goalie played well, but we have to create more off the rush. Moving forward, we've got to work on getting through the neutral zone. The D have to get their shots through and create offence."
Finland won the gold medal at the world junior hockey championship in Helsinki last January and also claimed gold at the under-18 tournament in North Dakota in April. A win at the world hockey championship would make Finland the first team to claim all three titles in one year since the U18 tournament was introduced in 1999.
Also on Tuesday, the Czech Republic clinched first place in Group A with a 5-4 win over Switzerland to secure a quarter-final matchup with the U.S. on Thursday in Moscow. Host Russia's 4-1 win over Sweden secured second place in Group A and a Thursday game against Germany.
Hungary joined Kazakhstan as the second team to be relegated back to Division 1A for next season after France's 3-0 loss to Belarus.