Many were surprised that the New Jersey Devils were so eager to acquire Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes, but he gave his new team some early value against his old franchise on Saturday night.
The Devils’ new power forward scored the 5-4 game-winning goal, helping New Jersey avoid a comeback by Carolina, as they saw a 4-1 lead dissolve into a 4-4 tie before that Ruutu tally.
Here’s video of the goal, which was more momentous for the context than for the tally itself:
Last week, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said his club would definitely be a buyer come deadline day — and he’s made good on that promise, acquiring Finnish winger Tuomo Ruutu from Carolina.
In exchange, the ‘Canes will get Russian forward Andrei Loktionov and a conditional third-round pick in 2017.
Ruutu, 31, is in the second of a four-year, $19 million deal with a $4.75 million cap hit. He’s struggled with injuries over the last two seasons and hasn’t found his form this year, scoring just five goals and 16 points in 57 games, averaging 14:15 TOI per night.
Ruutu has spent the last seven years in Carolina and had a solid season in 2010-11, when he scored 19 goals and 57 points while appearing in all 82 games. Since then, though, he’s been derailed by concussion and hip issues.
‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford has already addressed the trade via Twitter:
Loktionov, 23, is on a one-year deal worth $725,000, so this is shaping up to be a major salary dump for Carolina.
The 2014 Winter Games are drawing to a close, but we still have the most important contests ahead of us. Over the weekend, we’ll find out who will win the bronze, silver, and gold medals:
Bronze Medal Game: United States versus Finland (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) WATCH IT LIVE HERE
It’s certainly not the contest either one of these teams wanted to be in, but it’s the last chance for these squads to go home with something. The Americans were frustrated by Canada’s defensive style in the semifinals, so Finland might prove to be a particularly challenging opponent for them given that the Canadians were taking a page out of the Finns book.
For Finland, this match represents an opportunity to finish with a medal for the fifth time in the last six Winter Olympics. In that vein, Finnish forward Tuomo Ruutu will be trying to go 11-for-11 when it comes to winning a medal in international competitions.
Gold Medal Game: Canada versus Sweden (7 a.m. ET, NBC) WATCH IT LIVE HERE
The Canadians and Swedes both had to defeat their geographical and former gold medal game advisories in the semifinals to set up this contest. No matter what happens, the winner of this match will become the first men’s team to win gold with an undefeated record since the Soviet Union did it in 1984.
Sweden and Canada have won the last three Olympic gold medals, but they haven’t been frequent opponents. In fact, these two nations have only met twice since NHLers started competing in the games and never in a situation where either team faced elimination. Sweden earned a 5-2 win over Canada in 2002 to open the round robin and the Canadians beat the Swedes 3-2 in 1998.
In other words, these teams aren’t used to facing each other when the stakes are this high, but they’ll adapt in a hurry.
Drew Doughty’s time is now.
The L.A. defenseman, who’s easily been Canada’s best player in Sochi, turned in another stellar performance on Sunday, scoring both goals in Canada’s 2-1 overtime win over Finland in the final game of the group stage.
Doughty’s winner came at the midway point of the extra session after he collected a Jeff Carter pass and snapped the puck home past Tuukka Rask. It was Doughty’s fourth goal of the tournament — he now sits tied with Phil Kessel for second-most — and it came after Doughty opened the Canadian scoring at the 13:44 mark of the first period. Sidney Crosby and Shea Weber added assists on the first goal; the helper was the fourth point of the tournament for Weber, another Canadian defenseman producing well in Sochi.
Tuomo Ruutu replied for Finland — his first goal and fourth point of the Games — with Jussi Jokinen and Ossi Vaananen notching assists.
VIDEO: Canada needs OT to beat Finns
Rask was by far the busier and better of the two goalies on the day, as he registered 25 saves to Carey Price’s 14. That said, Price had to be sharp on occasion, especially with a huge blocker on Finnish defenseman Sami Salo late in the contest.
Overall, the game was a tight, close-checking affair with few mistakes made by either team. Some compact Finnish defending in the middle of the ice kept Canada to the perimeter, but it came at a cost as the Finns didn’t take many risks offensively. That, combined with Canada’s responsible defending, saw Finland put just 15 shots on goal — a far cry from the 52 they fired at Austria and 39 recorded against Norway.
With the win, Canada clinched top spot in Group B and third spot overall, meaning it gets an automatic bye into the quarterfinals — where it will take on the winner of No. 6 Switzerland vs. No. 11 Latvia.
Finland finished fourth overall, also gets a quarterfinal bye and will take on the winner of No. 5 Russia vs. No. 12 Norway.
Finland forward Tuomo Ruutu came into the 2014 Sochi Olympics with quite the track record when it came to international play.
In the 10 tournaments he’s played in including the Olympics, World Championships, and World Junior Championships, he’s been on 10 teams that have won a medal. That includes a bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a gold at the 2011 Worlds.
As Michael Smith at the Carolina Hurricanes site shares, Ruutu says familiarity helps the Finns on the world stage.
“It’s one of the strengths of Team Finland that most of the guys know each other well, and they’ve played with each other before,” Ruutu said. “We’re really good friends and really tight,” Ruutu said. “A lot of times it feels like, even though you haven’t seen guys for a couple of years, when you see them on the first day, you feel like you saw them yesterday and nothing has changed.”
So far things are going great for Finland after scoring in bunches in victories against Austria and Norway. We’ll see how much that camaraderie pays off for them on Sunday when they face Canada to see who finishes on top of their group.