Finland advances to gold medal game
|Finland's players celebrate the goal of Jarkko Immonen next to Russia's goaltender Konstantin Barulin (R) during their semi-final match against Russia at the Ice Hockey World Championships in Bratislava on May 13, 2011. (REUTERS/David W. Cerny)
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Minnesota Wild prospect Mikael Granlund scored a highlight-reel goal and set up another, as Finland advanced to the gold medal game of the 2011 World Championship with a 3-0 victory over Russia.
Granlund opened the scoring 5:13 into the second period with a jaw-dropping, lacrosse-style goal. Behind the net, the 19-year-old dodged a defender, scooped the puck onto his blade and in one fluid motion, whipped it under the crossbar, leaving Russian goalie Konstantin Barulin in awe.
The skill Granlund displayed explains why the Wild took him with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Jani Lajunen and Jarkko Immonen scored 1:35 apart in the third period for Finland, which hasn't won a World Championship gold medal since capturing its only one in 1995. Petri Vehanen made 17 of his 30 saves over the final 20 minutes to record the shutout.
Barulin stopped 26 shots for the Russians.
The Finns will face Sweden for the title on Sunday. The Swedes ended the Czech Republic's bid for a repeat title in Friday's first semifinal.
Mikael Backlund scored the go-ahead goal and collected an assist to help Sweden beat the Czech Republic, 5-2.
Patrik Berglund added a pair of goals, including the empty-netter in the final minute for Sweden, which hasn't won a World Championship gold medal since 2006. Marcus Kruger and Jimmie Ericsson also scored in the victory, while Viktor Fasth stopped 35 shots.
Patrik Elias scored both goals for the Czechs, who will play for bronze against Russia. Ondrej Pavelec made 43 saves in defeat.