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Finland survives late U.S. rally to win 3-2

Thursday, 05.15.2008 / 10:00 AM ET / News
The Canadian Press
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Finland survives late U.S. rally to win 3-2

HALIFAX – The United States enjoyed a big high, then suffered an even bigger low.

Sami Lepisto's goal at 3:59 of overtime gave Finland a 3-2 win over the Americans in quarter-final action at the IIHF World Hockey Championship Wednesday before 9,176 fans.

Trailing 2-0 with under five minutes remaining, the U.S. scored two goals 37 seconds apart to send the game to a 10-minute overtime period. But in the sudden death extra session, Lepisto broke the hearts of the U.S. when his point shot off a faceoff in the American end went through a crowd and underneath the pads of goaltender Robert Esche.

The loss by the U.S. makes it seven times in the last nine years that the Americans have failed to make it past the quarter-finals at the world championship. Finland is now off to the semifinals in Quebec City where they'll face Russia on Friday.

"It's a disappointment," said U.S. forward Zach Parise. "We didn't quit. Then, all of a sudden, you're packing your bags. It's a tough one for us right now."

The Americans seemed headed to a shutout loss as they struggled to generate good scoring opportunities against a trap-happy Finnish team who clogged up the neutral zone and kept most of the play to the outside.

But the Americans broke through with 4:16 remaining in the third as Phil Kessel re-directed a point-shot by Tim Gleason over the shoulder of Finnish goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Under a minute later, the U.S. struck again as Drew Stafford broke down the right-side short-handed and fired a perfect shot into the far corner of the net.

The U.S. had more positives to build off in the final three minutes as they killed off a Finnish power play, which included being down two men for 17 seconds.

But in the four-on-four overtime, it was Finland which generated the better scoring opportunities, and it eventually led to the game-winner by Lepisto.

"It's hard to lose like this, especially the way we played the third period," said U.S. coach John Tortorella. "We lost a tied faceoff. Really, we won it, but we didn't come up with the loose puck and it ends up going in the net."

Tuomo Ruuuto potted the only goal of the first period for Finland, which also beat the Americans 3-2 in the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes forward took a feed from Olli Jokinen and slid a back-hander underneath Esche from the bottom of the faceoff circle.

In the second, Finland added to its lead on the power play. Jokinen found Anssi Salmela at the point and the blueliner one-timed a shot through a crowd and over the glove of Esche.

Overall, shots favoured Finland 33-23, including 22-11 through two periods.

"When they scored their second goal, we came back stronger then we did the whole third period," said Finnish forwad Saku Koivu, who set-up the game winner.

"You know, sometimes you get lucky. You get the bounce that you need. It feels good."

While tough to swallow right now, the U.S. did make good strides at worlds as it showcased and young and talented team that served notice it will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The majority of the U.S. roster in Halifax was aged 25-and-under, and included talents like Kessel, Parise, Patrick Kane, Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Brown.

"Our future is looking really good," Parise said. "We have a lot of good young players. There is a lot to build off from this tournament, but at the same time, it's disappointing right now.

"We felt we had a good chance to go to Quebec City, and unfortunately, that's not the case right now. But we'll be a good team in the future."

NOTES: Mattias Weinhandl scored 3:15 into overtime Wednesday to give Sweden a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic and a berth in the semifinals, where it will face Canada on Friday.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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