Projected high draft pick Kaapo Kakko leads Finland to win over Canada

KOSICE, Slovakia — Finland continued its recent domination of Canada in international hockey on Friday, winning 3-1 in the opening game for both teams at the world men’s championship.

The Finns beat the Canadians in the preliminary round at the same tournament last year and also eliminated Canada from gold-medal contention at the world juniors and world women’s championships this year.

Finland’s Kaapo Kakko, expected to be a high pick in the NHL draft next month in Vancouver, led the way with two goals on Friday.

Arttu Ilomaki scored the winner for Finland on the power play, depositing a rebound behind Canadian goalie Matt Murray early in the third period.

Canada’s Anthony Mantha missed a great chance with goalie Matt Murray pulled late in regulation. He was all alone in front, but his backhand was stopped by Finland goalie Kevin Lankinen.

Kakko sealed it with an empty-netter seconds later.

Canada’s Jonathan Marchessault tied it at 1-1 on the power play at 8:03 of the first, taking a pass from Vegas Golden Knights teammate Mark Stone and beating Finland goalie Kevin Lankinen.

Kakko opened the scoring on a breakaway when his backhand beat Murray.

Marchessault was named player of the game for Canada in his Hockey Canada debut. Kakko was picked as Finland’s top player.

Finland outshot Canada 27-21.

Many feel Kakko and U.S. forward Jack Hughes are battling to be the first pick in the NHL draft. Those two teams play on Monday.

Canada suffered a bad break earlier this week when Toronto Maple Leafs star John Tavares was ruled out of the tournament because of an oblique injury.

Canada returns to action on Sunday against Great Britain. It is Great Britain’s first appearance in the top division at the worlds since 1994.

Canada was held off the podium at last year’s event, losing to the United States in the bronze-medal game.

Prior to that, Canada was on the podium three years in a row, winning gold in 2015 and ‘16 and silver in ‘17.

The Canadian Press

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