Norway provided the first close game of the IIHF world championship yesterday at the Metro Centre, and nearly pulled off an upset over its Finnish neighbours.
But Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu lifted Finland, the defending silver medallists, to a hard-fought 3-2 victory by scoring the winning goal 1:27 into overtime.
Ruutu helped Finland recover from a dreadful start, chipping a Mikko Koivu pass behind goalie Pal Grotnes on Finland’s 33rd shot, helping his team remain unbeaten.
“It’s a small rink, and every team plays tight through the neutral zone,” Koivu said. “It’s all packed. The closer it gets to the end, it’s tough to break that, and their goalie played well.”
Koivu said his team needs “to be more ready” next game.
“We can’t play the way we did the first two periods,” he said.
Jussi Jokinen and Ville Peltonen scored Finland’s other goals.
“It’s good for our confidence (to take Finland to overtime) and it really helps the young players,” said Norwegian blue-liner Anders Myrvold, who helped neutralize the Teemu Selanne line.
“For them, it’s really special.”
In the other Halifax game last night, Michael Hackert netted a pair of goals as Germany knocked off Slovakia 4-2.
At Quebec City, Washington Capitals rookie Nicklas Backstrom scored twice to lift Sweden to a 9-0 rout of France.