Selanne becomes oldest player to score at Olympics as Finland routs Norway
SOCHI, Russia — Finland is finished with tuneups: Canada is next.
Teemu Selanne became the oldest hockey player to score at the Olympics with the first of the Finns’ three goals in the opening period that helped them coast to a 6-1 win Friday over Norway at the Olympics.
The Canadians, though, are going to be tough to beat.
”Those guys are super-dangerous,” the 43-year-old Selanne said. ”Those guys have four All-Star lines.
”It’s going to be a big challenge. It’s going to fun.”
The Finns (2-0) have beaten a pair of overmatched teams by a combined score of 14-5.
Finland, which also beat Austria 8-4, will be tested in the preliminary-round finale against the defending Olympic champion Canadians (2-0) on Sunday.
”We are underdogs — absolutely,” Finland coach Roy Johansen said.
The winner would earn a guaranteed spot in the quarterfinals.
”Everybody is excited because if we win, it will be like winning two games,” said Finland forward Jori Lehtera, who capped his team’s scoring flurry late in the first period.
The Finns hope to have forward Aleksander Barkov, who plays for the Florida Panthers, healthy enough to be in the lineup Sunday after he had a lower-body injury against Norway. Johansen said he didn’t know how serious the ailment was following the game.
Selanne silenced any questions about whether he’d play after leaving the previous game with an upper-body injury by starting the game and scoring early.
”I felt great,” he said.
The ageless forward looked good, too.
Selanne, the oldest hockey player in the Sochi Games, scored on a wrist shot 5:46 into the game. He was on the ice for 22 shifts, as many as any skater on his team. Not bad for the fifth-oldest hockey player in Olympic history, and the oldest since Chris Chelios suited up for the U.S. at the age of 44 in 2006.
”Teemu is very important for us,” Johansen said. ”He’s our captain and he sets a good example for the younger players. He’s also a good person so it’s a good atmosphere all the time on our team.
”Teemu’s mind is so young.”
About a minute after Selanne scored, Lauri Korpikoski had his first of two goals. Korpikoski and Olli Jokinen scored midway through the second period that made it 5-0.
”It was a tough game,” Norway coach Erkka Westerlund said. ”We didn’t have a possibility to win.”
Norway went on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:30 early in the third period and took advantage, avoiding a shutout as Per-Age Skroder scored.
Kari Lehtonen finished with 20 saves for the Finns.
Norwegian goaltender Lars Haugen was pulled after giving up three goals on 13 shots in the first period. Lars Volden didn’t do much better in net, allowing two goals on 15 shots in the second period and he ended the game with 23 saves.
Finland wasn’t finished scoring, even though the only question was what the final score would be as Olli Maatta scored late in the game for a five-goal victory.
While the Finns haven’t gotten as much attention as Russia, Canada, Sweden and the U.S. in the tournament, they have proven to be a force in best-on-best hockey at the Olympics.
Finland is the only nation with three medals since NHL players joined the Olympics in 1998.
”Very seldom do you hear anything about our team,” Selanne said.
Norway (0-2) will have a shot Sunday to win in the Sochi Games against Austria (0-2) before likely being relegated to the playoff round to compete for a spot among the final eight in the 12-nation tournament.
The Norwegians have a unique perspective on the Canada-Finland game because they’re the only team in the tournament that has played both.
”The Finns are better at moving the puck,” Skroder said. ”Canada is stronger and heavier on the puck.”