In the Russian zone, Aleksi Saarela found Kapanen, who eluded defenceman Sergei Boikov and circled the net to score on a wrap-around as goalie Alexander Georgiev reached haplessly with his stick.
This is Finland’s fourth World Junior gold medal of all time. They also won in 1987, 1998, and 2014. They have now earned gold at two out of the last three tournaments.
This is the greatest era in Finnish U20 history.
It was a euphoric moment of redemption for Kapanen, who had faced some criticism for scoring just once in last year’s World Juniors. His OT winner will live forever in Finnish hockey lore.
Finland’s dynamic top line produced again. Patrik Laine and Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist apiece, while Jesse Puljujarvi added two assists. Captain Mikko Rantanen got a late power play goal to put Finland up 3-2 with 2:09 left.
Andrei Svetlakov scored twice for Russia, including the tying goal with just six seconds remaining, and captain Vladislav Kamenev added a single. Defenceman Ivan Provorov had two assists.
En route to the title, the Finns scored 35 goals. It equals their offensive output in 1998, when they also defeated Russia in overtime for gold in Helsinki. Puljujarvi (17 points), Aho (14 points) and Laine (13 points) finished 1-2-3 in tournament scoring.
Despite the disappointment of settling for silver, the Russians can take pride in their consistency. They medaled for the sixth straight year, a current streak unmatched by any other nation. Their last gold medal was in 2011 in Buffalo under head coach Valeri Bragin. When using Bragin, they have always made the final (2005, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016).
Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen added to his growing legend. He was also behind the bench when Finland won its last IIHF World Championship gold medal in 2011, defeating Sweden 6-1 in the final in Bratislava. Jalonen captured the Finnish championship with HPK in 2006.
The Finns outshot Russia 29-25, and there was intrigue around the starting goalies.