Americans pummel Finns to advance to gold medal game

Canadian hockey fans found themselves cheering for the Americans today in hopes that they would emerge victorious to set up a possible Canada vs. U.S. gold medal grudge match.

But not a single Canadian wanted to see them play this well.

The American offense was on fire as they scored all of their six goals in the first period in a 6-1 dismantling of the 2006 Olympic silver medalists, Team Finland, at Canada Hockey Place on Friday afternoon.

Finnish goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff will face the blame for the Finns defensive collapse, allowing the Americans to score the crucial first goal on a brutal giveaway.

As American skater Phil Kessel was closing in quickly on the Finnish netminder, Kiprusoff left his crease to clear the puck, but instead, gave it to American Ryan Malone.

Malone made no mistake and fired the puck into the back of the net, opening the scoring (and the floodgates) just 2:04 into the game.

In the next nine minutes, the Americans got goals from Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Erik Johnson, finally chasing Kiprusoff from the net after stopping only three of the seven shots he faced.

He was replaced by the Minnesota Wild’s Niklas Backstrom, whose introduction to the Americans was just as painful.

Backstrom allowed goals from Kane and Paul Stastny in his first three minutes of “relief”. Backstrom didn’t allow a goal in the second and third periods and finished the game with 16 saves.

The Americans played a full sixty-minute game despite their hot start and got good play from their goaltender Ryan Miller through the first 49 minutes, then allowing Tim Thomas to take them home through the remainder of the third period.

Antti Miettinen scored a power-play goal for the Finns with just over five minutes left to break the Miller/Thomas shutout bid.

The duo combined to make 23 saves.

The Finns will now play in the bronze medal game and will have to make a quick goaltending decision before taking to the ice again tomorrow night, as both Backstrom and Kiprusoff appeared shaky in this game.

With the win, the Americans have moved on to the gold medal game, and will face the winner of tonight’s Canada vs. Slovakia semi final.

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