Road To The Olympic Games

Jokinen leads Finland to hockey bronze

Finland scored three goals within three minutes and 35 seconds in the third period, beating Slovakia 5-3 in the bronze-medal game Saturday night at the Vancouver Olympics.

Finland scored three goals within three minutes and 35 seconds in the third period, beating Slovakia 5-3 in the bronze-medal game Saturday night at the Vancouver Olympics.

Olli Jokinen had two of Finland's third-period goals, which turned the game around after Slovakia appeared to be heading for victory, leading 3-1 after two periods at Canada Hockey Place.

"That wasn't a really good 60 minutes," Team Finland forward Teemu Selanne told CTV. "But [it was] good enough to win the game, and that's what really matters."

After a disastrous outing in Friday's semifinal against the U.S., goalie Miikka Kiprusoff redeemed himself, stopping 19 of 22 shots and making several acrobatic saves late in the game.

Kiprusoff had allowed four goals on seven shots in Finland's 6-1 loss to the Americans, leaving the game just after the midway point of the first period.

But after entering the tournament on the condition that he hold the starting role, Kiprusoff didn't relinquish the position for the bronze-medal gamel, maintaining the confidence of coach Jukka Jalonen.

Kiprusoff was brilliant at times, especially in the third period when he robbed Marian Gaborik at the goal-mouth just before Michal Handzus missed an open net in the dying seconds.

Valtteri Filppula added an empty-netter to seal the victory at 19:49.

Niklas Hagman and Sami Salo also scored for the Finns.

Gaborik, Marian Hossa and Pavol Demitra scored for Slovakia, which had seized control of the game with three second-period goals.

Demitra was inconsolable after the loss.

"Being fourth, I feel like the biggest loser," he said. "Being fourth is worse than being eighth, for me."

Salo opened the scoring at 18:50 of the first, beating goalie Jaroslav Halak on a slapshot from the blue-line. But when the two teams re-emerged from the dressing room, the Slovaks went on the offensive, appearing relentless at times in a dominant second period.

Strong power play

Again, special teams were huge keys to Slovakia's success. Gaborik and Hossa scored power-play goals when Finland got into penalty trouble — Hossa's marker came on a two-man advantage.

Demitra gave Slovakia a two-goal lead when he scored short-handed at 18:45, converting a perfect saucer pass from Hossa on a 2-on-1 rush. Demitra, who had a goal and two assists, also took over the tournament scoring lead with 10 points. Hossa is second with nine.

Finland, whose power play is also no slouch, scored twice with the man advantage in the third, climbing back into the see-saw battle. Finland's power play finished the tournament with the second-best rating at 34.38 per cent efficiency. Slovakia's was just behind at 33.3 per cent.

While Finland takes the bronze — its third Olympic men's hockey medal in the past four Games — the fourth-place finish for Slovakia was its best-ever placing.

The Slovaks earned a spot in the final four with surprise victories over Russia and Sweden along the way. They rallied late in Friday's semifinal against Canada, but ended up losing 3-2, putting them in the bronze-medal game.