Olympics

Norway-Finland Preview

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Despite showing it could play well without Teemu Selanne, Finland would rather have its captain and six-time Olympian on the ice.

After sitting out most of his team's debut in Sochi, Selanne is expected to be able to play Friday against Norway.

The 43-year-old Selanne had an assist in the first period Thursday against Austria while tying the record for most Olympic hockey appearances, but an upper-body injury forced him to the bench for the final two periods of an 8-4 victory. The all-time leading scorer in Olympic history got eight shifts before appearing to have issues with his neck or shoulders.

"It's tough to see him get injured, but he'll be OK," forward Olli Jokinen said. "He's a big part of this team, and he's our leader. It's never easy when you lose a guy like him."

Mikael Granlund and Jarkko Immonen each scored twice to help Finland win its Group B opener. The Finns gave up a goal 36 seconds into the game and trailed 2-1 midway through the opening period but scored the next five goals, including two in the final minute of the first.

"The first goal, everybody was caught sleeping there," goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "After that second goal, everybody kind of woke up and got back to playing again."

Finland will try for a better start against a Norwegian team that's winless in group play in its last six Olympic appearances but opened this one with a competitive performance against Canada, the 2010 gold medalist.

Patrick Thoresen cut Norway's deficit to one goal 22 seconds into the third period Thursday, but Canada scored 1:25 later en route to a 3-1 victory. The game was tied after the first period as the star-studded Canadians had only one more shot than the Norwegians, whose only current NHL player is New York Rangers points leader Mats Zuccarello.

"We got pushed back into the defensive zone throughout the second and third period, and that kind of emptied our tank there, but we kept the score low," Thoresen told the NHL's website. "(It is) a little bit too bad that they got the 3-1 goal so early after we reduced the score to 2-1. Maybe we could have shaken them a little more in the end, but obviously they're the best team in the world so we have to be a little bit satisfied, too, even if it hurts to lose."

Norway dropped to 0-25-1 with three ties in group play since 1980. It won an 11th-place game against Austria in 1994 and went 0-2-1 in group play in 2010 before getting edged 4-3 by Slovakia in the opening playoff round.

While Norway seeks its first Olympic victory in 20 years, Finland tries to take another step toward its first gold medal and sixth podium finish in the last eight Olympics. It finished third in 2010 and second in 2006.

The Finns will face Canada in a matchup that would decide the group champion Sunday if they top Norway and the Canadians beat Austria on Friday. The Group B winner will get an automatic berth into the quarterfinals, but there's also one spot for a second-place team.

Finland is facing Norway in the Olympics for the first time since a 4-0 win in 1994.

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