Tuukka look, Canada

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Tuukka times two?

Can Tuukka Rask replay the game of his life 24 hours later against Canada? He'll probably have to.

The Toronto Maple Leaf draft pick stopped 53 shots to lead Finland to a stunning 1-0 overtime win over Sweden here last night, which ended 34 seconds before the end of overtime on a power-play goal by Teemu Laakso. The win sent the outplayed Finns to the world junior semifinal today against Canada.

Rask couldn't recall whether he saw the puck go into the other net or not.

"I don't remember. I just screamed. I just yelled. It's such a big win for our country. Finland-Sweden is like the U.S.A.-Canada."

And to contemplate beating a Canadian team that scored a 5-1 win over him in the Boxing Day game to open the tournament?

"It would be huge. We have a lot of confidence going into the game now. I think we really have a chance to beat Canada."

MIGHT BE AN IDEA

He said it might be an idea today, however, to try to cut down the shots on goal.

"Hopefully not this many," he said. "That was my best game. For sure that was my best game."

Rask's greatness in this game was not unanimous. "I think we made him look good," said Sweden coach Torgny Bendelin.

Sweden owned the puck in the game that featured a lot more trapping than the total of 77 shots between the two teams might suggest.

"For sure, I'm a lucky coach. And a happy coach," said Finland's Hannu Aravirta.

"We didn't win so many statistics other than the faceoffs and the result."

Sweden, a team that finished second in the Kamloops-Kelowna pool, looked like it finally might make something happen again in this tournament. Sweden hasn't won a medal at the world junior since a 1996 silver.

Tre Kronar hasn't won gold at the tournament since 1981. In the last four years the Swedes have finished sixth, seventh, eighth and sixth.

"I've been in the game for 27 years," said Swedish coach Bendelin. "That is the toughest loss of my career.

"My team just couldn't play better. We just couldn't take care of our chances. Finland took the little chance they got. The team and the players are devastated."

Finland coach Aravirta said that's all true.

"Our play with the puck was very minimal."

But he didn't agree about the goaltending.

"I've never seen Rask play better. Unbelievable! Fifty-some shots! We win 1-0! I've never seen a similar game! For sure he was the most important player on the team."

Now Rask has to rest fast and wipe that smile off his face.

"I am very tired. But I am very happy."

Canadian coach Brent Sutter voted for Rask over the Swedish shooters making him look good.

"The Finland goalie was clearly the difference," he said. "He stopped over 50 pucks.

"We get to meet him again. He's an opponent and they are an opponent we know well."

Sutter said watching Finland play Sweden is different than watching Finland play Canada or the U.S.A.

"Finland plays more of a North American game. They don't play the same kind of game those two teams play when they play each other. Both teams certainly were trapping. We're not going to change our philosophy. We'll make some adjustments, but we'll play the game which got us this far."

COULDN'T BE HAPPIER

You'd figure Canada couldn't be happier with the result, including the fact it took until the final few seconds of overtime to tire the team they play today. And you'd figure neither Rask nor his teammates could possibly repeat the feat against the host nation.

"I'm not worried at all about our intensity and emotional level," said Sutter, who has his own Maple Leaf draft pick Justin Pogge between the pipes as he tries to go for gold again.


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