Finland tries to derail Russia's hockey medal hopes

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Updated: 2/18/2014 12:40 pm

Sochi, Russia ( - Russia's quest for Olympic hockey gold on home ice continues Wednesday with a quarterfinal matchup against Finland.

The Russians had to play in the qualification round on Tuesday and came away with a 4-0 win over Norway to advance. Sergei Bobrovsky made 22 saves in the shutout and Alexander Radulov scored a pair of goals for the host nation.

It wasn't as easy as a four-goal win would appear. The Norwegians kept it scoreless after one period, but Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the second period for Russia. Norway didn't mount much of an offensive threat in the third, but the Russians didn't put it away until late when Radulov found the empty net and Alexei Tereshenko added a goal in the final minute.

Finland secured a bye into the quarterfinals as the best second-place finisher in round-robin play. The Finns beat Austria and Norway by comfortable margins to start Group B, then took Canada to overtime before dropping a 2-1 decision.

With 15 goals in the first three games, the Finns matched the United States as the highest-scoring team in the preliminary round. It was evenly distributed, as Olli Maata, Mikael Granlund, Lauri Korpikoski and Jarkko Imonen shared the goal scoring lead with two apiece.

Tuukka Rask allowed four goals against Austria, but bounced back with a strong 25-save effort against Canada. Kari Lehtonen surrendered one goal in the blowout of Norway.

Finland has won the last two Olympic matchups with Russia -- a 4-0 whitewash in the 2006 semifinals and a 3-1 round-robin triumph in 2002. The Russians last beat the Finns in the 1998 semifinals, 7-4.

Russia hasn't won Olympic hockey gold since the breakup of the Soviet Union, although the Unified Team won the 1992 tournament in Albertville. Finland has never won Olympic gold, but has medaled in four of the last five Olympics with a bronze four years ago and a silver in 2006.

The Finns have the most medals since NHL players began Olympic participation in 1998 with three. Russia, Canada, the United States and the Czech Republic each have two.

The Russia-Finland winner will take on the victor between Slovenia and Sweden in the semifinals.


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