WJC: Finland 5 Czech Republic 4

This was quite easily, in my opinion, the best and most exciting game to date of the tournament. And it had implications for the playoff round. The winner would face Canada (and avoid the United States?) while the loser would face the Americans – no matter what happened in the Sweden – Canada game.

The Finns played with a depleted core on defence. Vili Sopanen was out with an injury and Miro Keskitalo out with an illness to start the game, they then lost Vili Saarijarvi who had to leave with a stomach flu.

After a scoreless first period where the teams would also be equal in the shot department at 11 a piece, the Finns would strike first . Finn netminder Veini Vehvilainen would stop David Pastrnak on a breakaway. As the play moved up ice, Sebastian Aho would gain the Czech zone. A pass attempt would be blocked but Aho would follow through and send a pass to Jesse Puljujarvi who made no mistake.

The lead would last just 3:30 as the Czechs would dominate zone time. Pastrnak and Michael Spacek would set up Jiri Smejkal who blasted a shot top shelf to even the score.

Only 1:46 later the Czechs would take the lead. The Finns were running around in their own zone while the Czechs were controlling the puck, that eventually worked its way Jan Ordos for an easy tuck and a 2-1 lead.

The Finns would tie it at 8:06 with the Czech defence playing questionable in their own zone this time. A brutal giveaway had Roope Hintz would find himself all alone facing Vitek Vanecek. Hintz would beat him five-hole to even things up.

The Finns would take the lead with their lethal powerplay. Kasperi Kapanen waited patiently on the left side half wall and sent a cross ice pass to Antti Kalapudas who one-timed it home for a 3-2 lead.

However the Czechs would tie things up on a powerplay of their own with 33 seconds remaining. Dominik Masin controlled the puck on the half wall and sent a pass to David Sklenicka who was following up on the play. Sklenicka would fire a rocket and beat Vehvilainen on his blocker side.

The Czechs would control the early part of the third period. Then with 8:37 gone in the period, Pastrnak would carry into the Finn zone. He sent a beautiful cross ice, no look pass to Spacek who one-timed it for a 4-3 Czech lead.

Finland’s deadly powerplay would go to work once again. Olli Juolevi would send a pass down low to Julius Nattinen who sent it cross crease to Puljujarvi to even things up at 4.

The Finns would take advantage on yet another powerplay. Aho would send a pass to Juolevi on the point. The defenceman would take a couple of steps towards the goal and drop back to Patrik Laine who fired it home for the go ahead goal and the win.

Pastrnak would be named the player of the game while Laine was named the Finn’s player of the game.

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