Finland erased a three-goal deficit and defeated Sweden 4-3 in overtime on Sunday, a result that takes each of its arch-rivals to the quarter-finals of the men’s hockey tournament at the Olympics.
The United States can end the top seed by beating Germany later in the day. That would make Finland the second seed, the Russians third and Sweden fourth in the knockout round.
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The fact that Sweden and Finland will join OT means that Canada will almost certainly be fifth and must play in the qualifying round on Tuesday. With the exception of an extremely unlikely upset loss to China in the preliminary final, the hosts and Canada would meet again two days later.
Finland got a little extra rest with their comeback in the third period. Teemu Hartikainen got the Finns on the board early in the third and Iiro Pakarinen scored two goals in the last five minutes of regulation. Harri Pesonen made the winner 2:01 in the 3-on-3 OT.
Lucas Wallmark, Lukas Bengtsson and captain Anton Lander scored powerplay goals for Sweden, which led 3-0 just after the middle of the second. Finland beat Sweden 16-3 after the second break.
Finland played most of the match without former NHL forward Markus Granlund, who was sentenced to a match penalty for an illegal check on the head of Sweden defender Philip Holm and may risk being suspended.
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Earlier Sunday, Slovakia took their first victory in the tournament by beating Latvia 5-2. Juraj Slafkovsky, the 17-year-old forward who is expected to be a top-10 pick in the NHL draft this summer, scored his fourth goal.
Slafkovsky had scored all of Slovakia’s goals in the first two matches. Against Latvia, the team finally got production elsewhere with goals from former NHL defender Martin Marincin and strikers Peter Cehlarik and Peter Zuzin.
“A lot of other guys are finally scoring goals, not just Juraj,” said former NHL forward Tomas Jurco. “For the team, it’s great to have some other guys on the board, and we’re glad we won.”
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With the exception of an extremely unlikely disruption of Canada by host China, Latvia will be the 11th seeding and is set to play against the sixth-seeded Denmark in the qualifying round on Tuesday. Slovakia is expected to be seeded eighth or ninth, depending on other measures, and seems likely to face defending silver medalist Germany in the qualifying round.
“I think we can beat anyone if we just play our game and play as a team,” said Slovakia coach Craig Ramsay, who spent 22 years as an NHL assistant. “The most important part is not individual hockey but team play. We have a fantastic team, and when they play as a team we look pretty good. When we play as individuals, well, we are not better than anyone else.”