FINNS HOLD ON TO EDGE SWEDES AT 4 NATIONS CUP
SASKATOON, Sask. – Riikka Välilä had a goal and an assist in a three-goal first period, and Finland held off a frantic Swedish comeback to earn a 3-2 win in an all-Nordic showdown Wednesday at the 2018 4 Nations Cup.
Sweden came out strong, but Finnish goaltender Jenna Silvonen shut down any and all early opportunities.
Finland quickly took over the first period, outshooting the Swedes 19-8 and scoring three goals, the first of which came when Venla Hovi caught a Jenniina Nylund rebound in front and sent it past netminder Maria Omberg at 6:30.
Annina Rajahuhta found a lane through to Välilä, who went glove side to give Finland a 2-0 lead at 16:10, and Emma Nuutinen converted on a power play late in the opening frame for a three-goal advantage after one.
Nuutinen and Sara Hjalmarsson had the best opportunities for their teams in the second period, but Omberg and Silvonen combined to stop all 17 shots they faced in a scoreless 20 minutes.
Despite Sweden outshooting the Finns 10-7 in the third period, it looked through much of the final stanza that Finland would get its three-goal lead across the finish line. But as the old saying goes – it’s not over ‘til it’s over.
With three minutes left the Swedes put Omberg on the bench for an extra attacker. Lisa Johansson got them on the board to make it 3-1 at 17:16 and Hanna Olsson caught Silvonen out of position just 15 seconds later, hammering in the 3-2 goal.
The Finns thought they had iced the win with an empty-net goal but instead found themselves killing a too-many-players-on-the-ice penalty for the final 72 seconds of the game.
Silvonen and the PK unit stood their ground as time ticked away, helping the Finns clinch the three points.
Following a day off Thursday, preliminary-round action comes to a close when Finland takes on Canada (7:30 p.m. CT) and Sweden meets the United States (3 p.m. CT).