International Ice Hockey Federation


Finns dig deep to breach Denmark's goalie

Published 03.05.2015 22:58 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 3: Finland's Antti Pihlstrom #41 stickhandles the puck in front of Denmark's Sebastian Dahm #32 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
It took half the game for Finland to break down Sebastian Dahm’s formidable barrier, but after solving the keeper Suomi eased to a 3-0 victory.

Jussi Jokinen, Janne Pesonen and Aleksander Barkov struck in the second period, converting a hugely one-sided shot count into a meaningful advantage on the scoreboard.

Finland, eager to atone for a 5-1 thumping off the USA in game one, took the game to Denmark from the start. The first period saw wave after wave of white-clad offence bearing down on the Danish net, only to break on Dahm. The goalie pulled off an incredible 20 saves in the opening stanza as the shots rained in on his goal and deserved his moment of fortune when Joonas Donskoi finally beat him only to crash the puck off the piping from close range.

Closer inspection, though, shows how hard Denmark was working to keep Finland at bay: fully half of those shots were thumped in by D-men as the Finns found it hard to really open up a resilient rearguard and test Dahm from the most dangerous areas. And the Danes kept Pekka Rinne honest at the other end with a couple of testing breakaways, most notably Julian Jakobsen’s surge in the 10th minute that produced a smart stop from the Predators’ goalie.

"Even though they didn't get inside us so much but they did a great job creating traffic in front of me," Dahm commented. "I had a tough time seeing the puck."

Denmark tried to up the tempo a little early in the second and Patrick Bjorkstrand almost snuck an effort past Rinne as he clipped the post from a tight angle but at the other end Finland was getting more out of its forwards and intensifying the pressure. However, when Dahm’s defences were finally busted in the 28th minute, it was goal on a shot from a D-man at the point. Anssi Salmela launched yet another missile from the blue line and it looped off Jussi Jokinen in front of the net to smash through the defensive wall. After a careful examination by the video official the play received the thumbs up and Finland was off the mark at last.

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It wasn’t long before the Finns doubled their advantage. Ossi Louhivaara battled down the boards, Joonas Kemppainen’s effort was blocked but Janne Pesonen swept in the rebound to give Suomi a more comfortable cushion.

Despite the long wait for a breakthrough Pesonen was never too concerned about the outcome. "It's tough when it doesn't come from the chances you're creating," he said. "But you just have to be patient, to keep doing the right things on the ice. That's the only way, if you start doing something else you'll lose your focus."

The game may have gone, but Dahm was still proving a formidable barrier. He made a smart glove save to deny Juhamati Aaltonen off a Petri Kontiola pass as Finland began to find a bit more space in the Danish zone. But goal #3 wasn’t long in coming and once again it was from the familiar point playbook. Esa Lindell banged in the shot and Aleksander Barkov got the vital touch to tip it past Dahm and effectively wrap up the game.

There was another alarm for the Danes in the 37th minute when Kirill Starkov hobbled gingerly off the ice, apparently struggling with an ankle problem. Happily he returned for the third period and forced a save from Rinne in the last couple of minutes.

That final session also saw Denmark enjoy more of the play, profiting as Finland's intensity dropped. In the 51st minute Jakobsen launched a fine shot against the bar with Rinne beaten.

"It didn't look good after the second period at 0-3 and with Finland having so much of the puck but the guys kept battling," Dahm said. "And you know, if that shot against the bar went in and then we had that power play it could have been a different game."

Rinne finished with a shut-out for Finland, but the plaudits went to his opposite number after Dahm's 38 saves in the face of fierce pressure.