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Finland edges Canada 4-3

Finland 4 Canada 3KLOTEN, Switzerland — At least Canada finally knows what it’s up against at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
Jarkko Immonen, Dwayne Roloson
Finland's Jarkko Immonen moves in on Canada's goalie Dwayne Roloson during their group F World Ice Hockey Championship qualifying round match in Zurich

Finland 4 Canada 3

KLOTEN, Switzerland — At least Canada finally knows what it’s up against at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

There was a sense that everything was coming a bit too easily as it hammered opponent after opponent to open the tournament, but that changed as soon as the puck was dropped against Finland on Monday night.

The speedy Finns forced the play and used the body before eventually handing Canada its first loss at this world championship — 4-3 in a shootout.

If there was a silver lining for the Canadian side, it’s that they were still able to clinch top spot in the pool with the point they got for losing in extra time. They’ve also been reminded how tough it’s going to be to win gold.

“We’ve got to be willing to outwork whoever we play against,” said captain Shane Doan. “That’s the Canadian way. I don’t think we necessarily did that tonight.”

Hannes Hyvonen scored the shootout winner as both teams wrapped up the round robin. His goal came in the seventh round of a shootout that saw Canada’s Martin St. Louis and Finland’s Jarkko Ruutu each score twice.

Canada now travels to Bern for the medal round and will face Latvia in the quarter-finals on Thursday. It will need to win three straight games to reclaim the gold medal it last won in 2007.

“Now the tough games really start and we’ve got to be ready to go,” said forward Jason Spezza.

Tuomas Pihlman, Anssi Salmela, Niko Kapanen scored in regulation for Finland, who will play the Americans in the final eight.

Dany Heatley led Canada with a pair of goals while Spezza added a single.

In Monday’s other games, Switzerland edged the U.S. 4-3 in overtime, Slovakia beat Norway 3-2 in overtime, Sweden downed France 6-3 and Denmark avoided relegation by beating Austria 5-2.

The Canadians had been anticipating their first true test of the tournament and the Finns gave it to them for more than 60 minutes. Finland flashed more speed than any of Canada’s previous opponents and was able to spring several players early in the game.

They wanted to take advantage of the fact Canada hadn’t been tested at the tournament.

“I think we initiated the situation,” said Ruutu. “This is probably their first game by far against that kind of pressure. I don’t think maybe they were ready for it.”

Pihlman and Salmela scored goals in the first eight minutes and suddenly Canada was trailing for the first time. The Finns kept coming and coming while chants of “Suomi! Suomi!” echoed through Kloten Arena.

They were firing everything they had at Canadian goalie Dwayne Roloson.

“We tried to shoot the puck from everywhere and go to the net,” said Finnish forward Niklas Hagman. “It looked like at the start that Roloson was a little shaky. The pucks were bouncing all over the place.”

Canada eventually steadied itself thanks in large part to a power play that has been on fire throughout this event. Spezza scored at 16:02 during the team’s first opportunity with the man advantage to narrow the lead to 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

From then, the teams played a back-and-forth game, exchanging momentum.

Another positive the Canadians took from the loss is that they were able to battle back after going down 3-1. Heatley scored two power-play goals — one late in the second period, the other midway through the third — to erase that deficit.

“It brings a team closer together,” said Spezza. “After the first period we had a little talk just showing that we have to be a little more desperate, these teams are going to be better now. The guys responded and we came back. It was nice.”

Switzerland 4 United States 3 (OT)

At Bern, Roman Wick scored in overtime to lift the host country to a win but it wasn’t enough for the Swiss to advance.

Switzerland needed to beat the Americans in regulation to move on the quarter-finals.

Andres Ambuhl, Martin Pluss and Romano Lemm also scored for Switzlerland.

Ron Hainsey scored twice for the Americans while Chris Higgins added a single.

Slovakia 3 Norway 2 (OT)

At Kloten, Ladislav Nagy scored a power-play goal 2:07 into overtime as Slovakia completed its world championship with a victory.

Stefan Ruzicka and Peter Smrek also scored for the Slovaks.

Anders Bastiansen and Lars Erik Lund had the goals for Norway.

Sweden 6 France 3

At Bern, Johnny Oduya, Marcus Nilson and Kristian Huselius each had a goal and an assist to help Sweden beat France.

Kenny Jonsson, Carl Gunnarsson and Dick Tarnstrom scored the other goals for the Swedes.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Anthoine Lussier and Sacha Treille scored for France.

Denmark 5 Austria 2

At Kloten, Mikkel Bodker scored twice and Patrick Galbraith made 33 saves as Denmark rallied from two goals down to relegate Austria.

Kasper Degn, Mads Christensen and Julian Jakobsen also had goals for Denmark.

Oliver Setzinger and Roland Kaspitz replied for the Austrians, who will play in the B pool of the world championship next year.