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Host Russia Takes on Rested Finland in Quarterfinals

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 6:06 PM / News
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Host Russia Takes on Rested Finland in Quarterfinals
What\'s at stake: Each country is still three wins away from bringing home gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but first things first: Russia and Finland meet Wednesday in a showdown of international superpowers, with one moving into the semifinals on Friday while the other goes home without the opportunity to play for a medal.
By Brian Hunter | NHL.com

RUSSIA vs. FINLAND

When: Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN, CBC)

Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome

What's at stake: Each country is still three wins away from bringing home gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but first things first: Russia and Finland meet Wednesday in a showdown of international superpowers, with one moving into the semifinals on Friday while the other goes home without the opportunity to play for a medal.

Russia: Hockey fans across Russia are still waiting for a dominant effort from the host nation; now might be a good time to deliver it. Russia has won three of the four games it's played in the tournament and the one loss was in an eight-round shootout against the United States. However, none of the wins came easily, including the opener in group play against Slovenia or the 4-0 win Tuesday against Norway in the play-in round.

The score itself would suggest Russia had little to worry about, but the game was scoreless into second period before Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored. Even after that, Norway hung in until the final minutes, when Russia doubled its advantage. The competition from here on out just gets better -- Norway played Tuesday without its lone NHL player, Mats Zuccarello, whereas Finland, despite battling its fair share of injuries, is still stacked, particularly in goal.

"They're a good team, they've got a good goalie and we have to find a way to beat him if we want a chance to win," Kovalchuk said. "I think we play better and better with each game. Even with Slovakia I think we played well and created a lot of chances.

"We didn't score much, but it was a big win for us [Tuesday]."

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 22 shots he faced Tuesday after Semyon Varlamov shut out Slovakia in Russia's final Group A game on Sunday.

Finland: By taking Canada to overtime in its final game in Group B play Sunday, even with a defeat Finland was able to secure a bye into the quarterfinals by finishing as the second-place team with the most points. Finland earned decisive wins against Austria and Norway earlier in the tournament.

Even with an injury that has ended Aleksander Barkov's tournament further depleting the Finns at center and young players like Olli Maatta and Sami Vatanen playing important minutes on defense, they've come together behind the strong goaltending of Tuukka Rask and the leadership of veterans such as captain Teemu Selanne.

Following practice on Monday, Finland coach Erkka Westerlund seemed prepared for the likelihood Finland would have to knock off the Russians in Russia to continue their medal quest.

"In this tournament, you will have to win against big countries," Westerlund said. "Russia would be a big challenge for us. They play very good hockey and they have good set of players."

What's next: The winner of this game will face the winner of Sweden against Slovenia to be played earlier Wednesday (3 a.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 59 19 39 9 58
C. Perry 47 24 17 12 41
R. Kesler 62 15 22 -4 37
S. Vatanen 57 12 22 6 34
M. Beleskey 56 21 9 13 30
P. Maroon 54 7 21 -3 28
H. Lindholm 59 6 22 19 28
J. Silfverberg 61 9 17 7 26
C. Fowler 61 5 21 -5 26
K. Palmieri 37 12 11 -1 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 29 8 5 .916 2.37
J. Gibson 6 5 0 .915 2.69

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