International Ice Hockey Federation

Donskoi goal gives Finns win

Rinne understudy equally capable

Published 09.05.2015 20:08 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Donskoi goal gives Finns win
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 9: Finland's Juuse Saros #32 makes a pad save off a shot from Slovakia's Mario Bliznak #55 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Finland and Slovakia battled to a scoreless draw until a third period goal by Joonas Donskoi led the Finns to a 3-0 win.

The last time Slovakia defeated Finland was at the 2004 IIHF World Championship here in the Czech Republic. Since that time, Finland has won all seven games when these teams have met.

"We played really strong all through the game," said Jussi Jokinen. "We were really patient with our game, we kept going and we were confident that if it took 65 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever we would get the reward."

Pekka Rinne came into the game chasing the modern day World Championship shutout streak for goaltenders. Rinne’s chance at setting the record, though, would have to wait.

Head coach Kari Salonen opted not to dress Rinne for today’s game going instead with Juuse Saros. Atte Engren was the backup. Saros did not disappoint as he made 22 saves en route to the shutout and best player of the game honours for Finland. The shutout also ran Finland’s streak to four games without giving up a goal at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to set a modern-day team shutout record.

The last goal Finland surrendered was a third period tally by the Americans in the opening game of the tournament.

There was plenty of action for the Finns in the Slovak end of the ice. Starting goaltender Jan Laco faced 13 shots in what was an active first period.

Anssi Salmela had two important chances in the period. The first off a crisp pass from Jussi Jokinen and another on a rush back the other way on the same shift.

The line of Juhamatti Aaltonen, Joonas Kemppainen and Janne Pesonen played extremely well, generating five shots in the period. 

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Slovakia thought they took a 1-0 lead at 8:12 when Tomas Jurco batted the puck midair into the net. Saros made a save but the puck went over his head and behind the netminder where Jurco tapped it in. The goal was waived off because Jurco’s effort was ruled a high stick. Further review of the play supported the call.

In the second Finland and Slovakia traded power plays but the score would remain scoreless. When Antti Pihlstrom was called for high sticking at 7:17 giving Slovakia its first power play. Atte Ohtamaa was called for hooking and put Finland down two players but the Slovaks could not generate anything of note.

Mario Bliznak had the best chance for the Slovaks as he broke in alone on Saros bout could not gain full control of the puck for a decent shot.

Aleksander Barkov fed a pass to Donskoi who was alone in front but Laco poked the puck away, preventing a clear shot on goal.

After a two shot output in the second period, Slovakia came out with better chances, taking shots that were either wide or on net and when they were Saros would not easily give up rebounds after saves. 

"We didn't get in front of the net enough and shoot behind the guys and that's the biggest problem," said Marek Viedensky. "The Finns have a good defence and we didn't really get the chance to score and when we got a chance the goalie saved it."

Finland scored at 9:32 with some determined play. Jonas Donskoi took a pass from behind the net and put it home for a 1-0 lead. Esa Lindell, who continues his fine play as a World Championship rookie, assisted on the play along with Jussi Jokinen.

Finland added another at 15:33 when Aaltonen finally got on the board. Pesonen fought off a check behind the net to send a pass to Aaltonen who scored his first of the tournament.

After a 5-1 drubbing by the Americans in the opening game of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Finland has played consistent hockey featuring an airtight defense.

"We take lots of pride that we don't let up lots of chances or lots of goals," Jokinen said of his team's play. "We play really strong defence, our PK has been great and that's the thing we really want to concentrate on for the whole tournament."