Finns rout the Russians

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

They put the finishing touches on the waning Russian hopes to advance, then took aim at finishing first in their pool.

Finland's Katja Riipi was named player of the game for leading the Finns to a 4-0 whitewash of Russia before only 3,350 fans at the MTS Centre yesterday.

"It was a good game for the start," said Riipi, who had appeared to score a pair of goals but only got credit for one. "We thought it would be a hard game because it was the first game of the tournament and they had already played a game."

The Russians dropped a 3-2 decision to Sweden on Tuesday so Finland faces the Swedes in a first-place showdown in their pool at the MTS Centre today at 4 p.m.

"It's very important because we have very good teams in our pool," said Finland coach Hannu Saintula. "And 4-0 is very important so we can think about (today's) game against Sweden. It's very important to be No. 1.

"We have a very good chance to beat them."

And he hopes his charges can continue to ride the momentum of last night's match.

"It's very good that we played like this," Saintula said. "Our defence, we played very well for 2 1/2 periods. The rest of the second period, we are not focused and that's why the Russians had good chances to score."

That's when young goaltender Noora Raty came up big, making several scintillating saves on a couple of breakaways and close-in shots to preserve a 2-0 lead.

"She had a great game," Saintula said.

"I felt very, very good," said Raty, who made 19 saves.

Forward Mari Pehknonen opened the scoring early in the first period, backhanding a rebound left by teammate Mari Saarinen. In the second period, Finnish defenceman Kati Kovalainen scored on the power play. Riipi and, apparently, Nora Tallus (although it sure looked like Riipi), scored on the power play in the third as the Fins skated to an easy victory.

The Russians now drop into the relegation round. Russia coach Vladimir Kucherenko was not available for comment after the team's translators accompanied at least one injured Russian player to the hospital.


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