Team Finland battled gallantly to claim a hard-earned victory over hosts Russia in ice hockey quarter-finals at the Sochi Olympics to book a semi-final show-down against Sweden. Although first and foremost a team effort, Mikael Granlund, Teemu Selänne, Sami Vatanen and Tuukka Rask especially excelled, with Rask producing a whopping 37 saves to deny Russia's superstars.
Finland started the game poorly, however, as Russia capitalised on its first power-play, with Ilya Kovalchuk whacking the puck just under the crossbar.
Finland bounced back only minutes later, when Juhamatti Aaltonen glided confidently past Russian defencemen and sneaked the puck under the arm of goaltender Semyon Varlamov at close range.
Finland then grabbed the lead a couple of minutes before the end of the first period, when Granlund outpaced Russian defenceman Slava Voynov to the puck and slid it to the arriving Selänne, who calmly slotted it past Varlamov to make it 2—1 for Finland.
The captain and Granlund combined again in the middle of the second period, when Granlund picked up a flubbed shot by Selänne and coolly rounded the Russian goaltender to slide a backhand into the net from an acute angle.
The remainder of the second period was dominated by Russia, which continued to press in the third period but was unable to penetrate the Finnish defence.
Finland consequently faces Sweden in a mouthwatering semi-final show-down on Friday.
Jouni Munukka – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva