HELSINKI (AFP) –
Reigning champions and co-hosts Finland beat Kazakhstan 4-1 on Monday to notch their fifth win at the ice hockey world championships.
Detroit Red Wings center Valteri Filppula scored twice, while defender Mikko Maenpaa and left winger Jussi Jokinen got a goal apiece to lift Finland into second spot in their preliminary group table.
The Finns, spurred on by the 12,500 home crowd, got down to work right from the starting face-off making Kazakhstan goaltender Vitali Kolesnik the most overworked player at the ice of Hartwall arena.
In the second the Finns continued peppering Kolesnik with shots and Carolina Hurricanes star Jokinen put his side 1-0 up redirecting Maenpaa’s shot into the net at 24:02 on powerplay.
Maenpaa added his goal on a two-man powerplay with a slap shot from the blue line seven minutes later, while Filppula made it 3-0 with 2:17 remaining to play in the second period.
Filppula netted his second of the match on powerplay 1:15 into the third period.
“We were ready to play today and played well from the start,” Finland coach Jukka Jalonen said. “(Miko) Koivy line played excellent tonight throughout the match making the result.”
“After we got a four-goal lead we lost concentration a little bit allowing Kazakhstan to score. But in general I’m pleased both with our performance and the result.”
In the late Stockholm group match leaders Russia maintained their perfect record clinching their seventh win in as many matches beating a hapless Italy side 4-0 which saw the losers relegated.
In the early Helsinki match France battled back from a goal down to overcome Belarus 2-1 and stay in the race for a place in the knockout stage of the event.
Defenders Kevin Hecquefeuille and Yohann Auvitu scored one apiece, while veteran ‘keeper Crostobal Huet produced 21 saves to record the French team’s third win at the event.
After beating Belarus France will have to battle head-to-head on Tuesday with Slovakia for the last remaining play-off spot in the Helsinki group.
“We wanted to give ourselves a chance for tomorrow’s game,” said Huet, who was named the French team Player of the Match.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we wanted to give ourselves a shot at it and that’s where we are now.”
Meanwhile, in Stockholm’s early match Denmark overcame Latvia 2-0 to ensure Italy and not they were relegated.