Despite coming into this game with two disappointing losses, the consensus was that the Finns would provide the toughest test for Canada so far in this year's tournament. While the Finns have struggled, they possess numerous weapons, good goaltending, and are the defending champs who knocked Canada out of the tournament in Sweden last year. Certainly, no walk through for the Canadians on paper.
A tighter game was expected, and that's exactly what the Finns provided early on. Anthony Duclair nearly scored 20 seconds into the game, but was denied by Juuse Saros. The Finns immediately came back with a scoring chance of their own and were denied by Zachary Fucale. And so, the tone was set for a game, the outcome of which would depend heavily on those goaltenders.
Canada did manage to solve Saros first. Shortly after being awarded their first powerplay of the night, Sam Reinhart banged in a rebound from a Shea Theodore point shot, putting the Canadians up a goal. After that, the teams again began trading scoring chances at an amazing pace, but both goaltenders stood tall and made a number of good saves.
Finland would get a lone powerplay opportunity of their own in the first, but again struggled to generate much. At even strength the teams looked very evenly matched, both registering ten shots on goal, but Canada held a one goal advantage thanks to their edge in special teams play.
The second period began with a little more tight checking than the first, but the ridiculous pace of the first period resumed before long. There were very few whistles to speak of, and the speed of both teams was on full display. It was quite impressive to watch these two teams skate with each other; one of the better games you'll ever get to see at this level.
Canada held an edge in the scoring chance department, but Juuse Saros continually robbed the Canadians at every opportunity. Zachary Fucale, while not quite as busy as Saros, still had to make some pretty good saves as the Finns had their share of chances up ice.
Canada would get their second powerplay of the night, but weren't able to generate much despite moving the puck well in the Finnish zone. A few minutes after the failed powerplay, Anthony Duclair found a streaking Sam Reinhart, who made no mistake tipping it past Saros to give his team a two goal edge in a tight game.
Habs prospect and Finnish captain Artturi Lehkonen had been quiet in the tournament, but he found the scoresheet in the second, stealing the puck from Sam Morin and finishing his own rebound allowed by Fucale on the initial shot. With that goal, Lehkonen ended his own WJC scoring drought and the Canadian team's 158 minute shutout streak. As expected, the Canadians found a much bigger test in Finland, and headed into the third with a tenuous one goal lead.
Finland went on the powerplay for the second time in the game early in the third period. Canada again did an excellent job limiting opportunities, allowing just one shot. This brought the total to 0/12 on the powerplay for Finland this tournament, as they have struggled mightily to capitalize on those opportunities.
Finland had the edge in play for the first half of the period, pushing to try and get the game tied up. However, with under 10 minutes to play, Max Domi took the puck to the net, an the rebound found it's way right on to the stick of Anthony Duclair. Duclair found the open net from a slightly odd angle, restoring the two goal Canadian lead.
At the tail end of another Canadian powerplay, Josh Morrissey's point shot handcuffed Saros, and while he searched for the rebound, Curtis Lazar pounced on it to extend the lead to 4-1. A 4-1 finale feels a little undeserved for the Finns, but the superior Canadian special teams and a two goal night from Sam Reinhart proved to be the difference. They'll now have to wait until New Year's eve against Germany to see if they can earn a spot in the medal round.