If Finland was going to get far in this tournament, the assumption was that it would be on the strength of its goaltending.
Now it appears the Finns might ride their offense.
Despite playing without the services of top centers Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula, The Finns powered their way to a 6-1 victory over Norway on Friday, just a day after their 8-4 win against Austria.
Pittsburgh phenom Olli Maata, 19, led the way for Finland with three points, while Phoenix’s Lauri Korpikoski scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner. Olli Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu also chipped in with a pair of points each.
As for the goaltending — Tuukka Rask was roughed up in the Austria contest (allowing four goals), which prompted Finland to go with Dallas Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen today. Lehtonen wasn’t challenged often, but was sharp when he needed to be, stopping 20 of 21 shots. Meanwhile, Norwegian netminder Lars Haugen was yanked after 20 minutes following a 35-save effort against Canada on Thursday.
Teemu Selanne got the game started on a positive note for Finland by scoring just 5:46 minutes into the contest. In doing so, he became the oldest player to ever find the back of the net in an Olympic game.
As impressive as Finland’s blowout victories have been, they have to be taken with a grain of salt given that they’ve come against a pair of nations that weren’t expected to do much in this tournament. Finland’s first major test will come on Sunday, when it plays against Canada to determine who will win Group B.
Norway will play against Austria on Sunday. Both of those countries are searching for their first win and simultaneously fighting for better positioning in the qualification round.