By Josh Ferguson
Finland erased a two-goal deficit in the third period and came back to beat the Slovaks 5-3 to capture the bronze medal at Canada Hockey Place on Saturday.
Olli Jokinen buried a pair of goals in the third period – including the game-winner – and Kimmo Timonen chipped in two helpers to lead the Finn’s to their fourth medal in the last five Olympic Games.
The two teams traded power play goals through the first 30 minutes of a game where the teams combined for 32 minutes in penalties. With an abundance of infractions, special teams quickly became the focal point of this bronze medal match and the Slovaks executed on both the power play and the penalty kill.
After Marian Hossa buried a loose puck at the side of the Finnish goal on the man advantage to make it 2-1 for Slovakia, he made a pretty pass on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Pavol Demitra that the 35-year-old Vancouver Canuck buried to make it 3-1.
With their backs against the wall again, Finland was resurgent in the third and pumped Slovak backstop Jaroslav Halak for three goals on 11 shots.
Niklas Hagman deflected a Kimmo Timonen point shot past Halak to narrow the gap to one goal just five minutes into the third. After Jokinen tied up the game on a pretty pass from Jarkko Ruutu on the half boards, he split the Slovak defense and then beat Halak on a backhand deke to take a 4-3 lead. Jokinen’s two goals came two minutes apart and the three Finnish goals came in a span of 3:35 in the opening 10 minutes of the third.
It was deja vu for the Slovaks in the dying minutes of the game as Richard Zednik found a loose puck at the side of the Finnish goal with lots of open net, but Miikka Kiprusoff robbed him on save similar to that of Roberto Luongo on Demitra just 24 hours earlier.
The Slovaks would continue to pour it on, but Valtteri Filppula collected an empty-netter to solidify the bronze medal and a come-from-behind win.
Kiprusoff was sturdy in goal for the Finns after a shaky game in the semi-final and stopped 19 of the 22 shots he faced. At the other end, Halak almost stole the game for the Slovaks and turned aside 28 of 32 shots.
After setting the all-time Olympic record for points in the Vancouver Games, Teemu Selanne caps his historical tournament with his third medal. Since NHL players were allowed to play in the Olympics in 1998, no team has won more medals than Finland with three.
By Josh Ferguson