Gold Medal Game: Finland 4, Russia 3 (OT)
With one timely, decisive move to the net, Finland’s Kasperi Kapanen gave his nation a moment to remember.
Kapanen took advantage of a collision between defenseman Ivan Provorov and goalie Alexander Georgiev and wrapped the puck into a wide open net, giving host Finland its second gold medal in three years at the world junior hockey championship.
Kapanen scored 1:33 into overtime – just minutes after Russia’s Andrei Svetlakov forced extra time with six seconds left in regulation – and the Finns won the tournament finale 4-3 on Tuesday in front of a raucous crowd in Helsinki.
Finland, which needed overtime to claim the gold medal at the 2014 tournament, was seconds away from winning in regulation thanks to Mikko Rantanen’s tiebreaking goal on the power play with 2:09 remaining. But Provorov rocketed a shot from the right point off Svetlakov and past goalie Kappo Kahkonen with just seconds left before the final buzzer.
Finland outshot Russia 29-25 and held Russia without a shot for long stretches of the second period. The Finns took that momentum into the third period, where they erased a 1-0 deficit on a goal from sniper Patrik Laine just 24 second in. But Russia needed just 77 seconds after Laine’s tally to retake the lead when Svetlakov wired a wrist shot from the left circle past a screened Kahkonen.
Sebastian Aho, Finland’s top line center, tied the score 2-2 at the midway point of the final period when he one-timed a Jesse Puljujarvi feed from the near corner through Georgiev. Finland then received a pair of back-to-back power plays, the latter of which led to Rantanen’s tip-in from Vili Saarijarvi’s point shot.
Vladislav Kamenev scored the game’s first goal when he slapped a power play goal past Kahkonen at 4:50 of the first. The Russian captain was ejected in the third period for a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties immediately following Rantanen’s crucial goal.
Puljujarvi, who was named Most Valuable Player after finishing with a tournament-best 17 points, was named to the all-tournament team along with Laine and defenseman Olli Juolevi. Americans Auston Matthews and Zach Werenski, and Swedish goalie Linus Soderstrom made up thje rest of the selections.
Georgiev made 25 saves for Russia, which lost by a goal in last year’s final against Canada.