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IIHF – Finns knock off Norway

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Oliver Kapanen stayed red-hot with two goals and Arttu Hyry also scored twice as Finland downed Norway 4-1 for its second straight Group A win on Monday.

Kapanen, 20, is up to a tournament-leading five goals in Prague. He had a hat trick in the 8-0 romp over Great Britain. The Timra-born centre, a 2021 second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, has already almost matched his 27-year-old cousin Kasperi Kapanen’s career Worlds goals output (six in 16 games, 2018 & 2023).

Fellow forward Hannes Bjorninen praised Kapanen: “He has been fantastic. He’s playing all-around really good hockey here. He’s winning faceoffs and playing good and hard on defence, and then his offensive game has been really good.”

Defenceman Oliwer Kaski and forward Jere Innala chipped in a pair of assists apiece.

Predictably, the Finns controlled this Nordic derby, outshooting Norway 42-14. Goalie Harri Sateri, who backstopped Finland to the 2022 Olympic gold medal in Beijing, got his first win of this tournament after starting in the 1-0 shootout loss to Czechia.

“We let in two goals early, and it’s tough to score goals on the Finns,” said Norwegian captain Patrick Thoresen. “They haven’t let in too many goals so far this tournament. If we want to win, get some points here, we need to keep the score low.”

Norwegian star Mats Zuccarello sat this one out due to feeling ill. He is expected to return for Tuesday’s showdown against Denmark. The 36-year-old Minnesota Wild forward, a two-time Olympian in his fifth Worlds, has been an offensive catalyst in Prague with three assists in two games. Zuccarello leads all Norwegian NHLers with 636 points in 835 games.
 

The Finns hemmed Norway in from the get-go, peppering Arntzen from every angle, and it was only a matter of time until the first puck went in.

Showcasing his net-front presence and hand-eye coordination, Kapanen capitalized on Finland’s second power play at 6:49, tipping in Kaski’s point shot past Norwegian goalie Jonas Arntzen off an offensive-zone faceoff. It mirrored the play that duo used to open the scoring versus Great Britain.

“It feels good,” said Kapanen. “It’s always fun to score some goals. So I’m enjoying that and I’m going to try to score some more.”

The Norwegians picked up the pace midway through the period. But they couldn’t cash in with Jesse Puljujarvi off for tripping, and promising teenage linemates Noah Steen and Michael Brandsegg-Nygard failed to click on an odd-man rush.

At 17:56, a falling Arttu Hyry made it 2-0 as he got a stick on Kaski’s rising centre-point release.

The last minute of the first period was delayed and played immediately before the second period. Additional ice maintenance was performed after an incident where Norway’s Christian Kaasastul inadvertently fell into the boards. The 27-year-old blueliner, who will suit up for Liiga’s KooKoo next year, would return.

Just 0:27 into the middle frame, Hyry backhanded in a rebound for his second of the evening.

Arntzen misplayed the puck behind his net on the fourth Finnish goal just past the midway point. The veteran netminder put it off an incoming Ahti Oksanen’s skate and watched helplessly as it bounced out front for Kapanen, who had a wide-open net.

Elaborating on Finland’s offensive approach, Kapanen said: “Just get pucks to the net and go there and make some ugly goals. That’s been the strategy and it’s been working.”

The Norwegian fans finally got a reason to cheer when Max Krogdahl jumped out of the box after serving a delay-of-game penalty and scored on a breakaway with 1:13 left in the period. The goal was the first Finland has allowed in regulation time since the tournament started.

“I thought we got better and better and had two solid periods in the second and third,” Bjorninen said.

In the third period, Finland was a cross bar away getting from its fifth goal, but it didn’t matter. Coach Jukka Jalonen’s men will look for their third straight victory against Austria on Thursday. According to Bjorninen, Leijonat will enjoy a well-deserved family dinner and then refocus for the action that lies ahead.

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