Nick Paul scores in overtime, Canada defeats Finland in world hockey final

RIGA, LATVIA – Nick Paul scored in overtime with a pass from Ottawa Senators teammate Connor Brown, and Canada completed their incredible turnaround at the world hockey championship with a 3-2 victory over Finland in the gold medal game on Sunday.

Paul and Brown completed a two-on-one break in three-way overtime with Brown slipping the puck on Paul, who beat Finnish goalie Jussi Olkinuora 6:26 in the extra frame.

Maxime Comtois and Adam Henrique also scored for Canada, who looked depressed after losing their first three games in Riga before embarking on an unlikely race to the top of the podium.

“We started 0-3, not the start we wanted, but we came together as a group,” said Paul. “People counted us out, we knew we were going to come together, work hard and take it in the end and we did it. We got closer than we wanted, but it was an amazing game and hard contested and I’m super proud right now. “

Brown assisted on Canada’s three goals in the final to end the championship with a high 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) as Canada won its 27th world title and its third since 2015.

Mikael Ruohomaa and Petteri Lindbohm scored for Finland.

Andrew Mangiapane, whose arrival halfway through the prelims sparked Canada, has been named player of the tournament. The Calgary Flames forward has seven goals, including the winners of Canada’s quarterfinals and semi-finals, and four assists in seven games.

“I think (Mangiapane) came and added an element that we needed at the right time,” said Henrique. “His arrival was huge for our team, the chemistry of our team, and it seemed to click on the ice which was important for us to move forward. “

Darcy Kuemper put in a strong performance in front of goals for Canada, repelling 29 shots. Olkinuora made 23 saves for Finland.

Earlier, the United States took bronze with a 6-1 victory over Germany.

Sunday’s result was a measure of revenge for Canada, which turned down Finland in their quest to win back-to-back world titles for the first time. The Finns beat Canada 3-1 in the 2019 World Championships final. The 2020 tournament has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finland also beat Canada 3-2 in a shootout on the final day of the prelims. The result almost eliminated Canada from the medal race.

“It feels good,” said Canada’s head coach Gerard Gallant. “Obviously we were in a deep hole at the start of the tournament, but we kept improving. Tonight was an exceptional game and Finland are a great team.

“We had to fight hard against them, come back from behind and luckily for us we got the break in overtime, but hats off to Finland, he’s a great defending champion and it was a great game tonight. . “

Canada got into trouble early in the first period and Finland finally made them pay. Oliwer Kaski kept the puck in the Canadian zone at the blue line, then fed Ruohomaa, who had escaped the Canadian defense. Ruohomaa beat Kuemper just as a high level penalty to Paul expired.

Paul’s offense came shortly after Canada killed a penalty when a minor boarding and 10-minute misconduct was inflicted on Justin Danforth.

Canada tied the game at 4:30 of the second period on a power play. Brown’s shot hit the post and rebounded until he ended up falling to Comtois, who beat Olkinuora from close range.

Canada appeared to take a 2-1 lead later in the period when Henrique beat Olkinuora, but defenseman Owen Power was ruled offside.

Lindbohm restored the lead to Finland at 5:27 of the third period when his instant shot from the edge of the left face-off circle beat Kuemper.

Henrique tied 2-2 on the power play 18 seconds after Paul received a penalty for tripping over Ruohomaa. Comtois fed the captain of Canada in front, who managed to pass the puck past Olkinuora. This set the stage for Paul’s championship-winning goal.

“You get to know the way Finland play. They play such a structured and tight defensive game,” said Henrique. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew we were going to have to find a way to score some goals to win because once they get the lead they are tough to come back and they have proven themselves this year. there. after year. “

Canada’s participation in the gold medal game seemed highly unlikely during the first half of the preliminary round.

The Canadians started off with a 2-0 loss to Latvia, then two days later were beaten 5-1 by the Americans.

A 3-1 loss to Germany then placed Canada 0-3, and in danger of not advancing to the quarterfinals of a world championship or the Olympics for the first time.

Defeated but not eliminated, Canada began to make their way into the tournament with a 4-2 victory over Norway. Mangiapane gave insight into the significance of his addition, scoring the game-winning goal on his tournament debut.

The roster assembled by Canada’s brass, including first GM Roberto Luongo, appeared to be forming as the tournament progressed. Canada followed up their victory over Norway with a 4-2 win over Kazakhstan, then in a Group B playoff position, then tied their record at 3-3 with a 7-1 loss to Italy without victory.

The results put Canada in control of their playoff destiny, but the shootout loss to Finland meant the Canadians would need help to place in the top four in the pool. They got it when Germany closed the preliminary round with a 2-1 victory over Latvia in regulation, depriving the hosts of the point needed to oust Canada from the top four.

Canada took the opportunity, with Mangiapane scoring in overtime in a 2-1 quarter-final loss to Group A winners Russia, then taking rematch against North American rivals with a 4-2 victory. on the United States, seed number one. in group B, in the semi-finals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 6, 2021.

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