United States routs Finland, 6-1, to reach Olympic men's hockey gold medal game
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The torment began almost immediately.
The shot by Ryan Malone of the United States into an open net left Finland goalie Miikka Kiprusoff staring at the ceiling and shaking his head.
What happened next in this semifinal jolted Canada Hockey Place: The Americans scored four times on Kiprusoff in a six-goal first period, surging into the Olympic gold medal game with a 6-1 rout of Finland on Friday.
"We haven't won anything yet," forward Zach Parise said. "We're getting better and that's the most important and rewarding thing."
The United States will meet Canada on Sunday, 50 years to the day after capturing gold in 1960 in Squaw Valley, Calif.
By the time Kiprusoff left the game 10 minutes 8 seconds in, the United States had a 4-0 lead on only seven shots. The Calgary Flames goalie had allowed four goals on 75 Olympic shots in three previous games, giving him the top save percentage in the tournament.
Kiprusoff said Coach Jukka Jalonen told him he would be out after a fourth goal.
"If you let in four goals in the first period, it's the right call to make," Kiprusoff said.
Backup goalie Niklas Backstrom was still wearing his baseball cap as he scurried on the ice to get ready to bail out Kiprusoff.
Kiprusoff's day appeared to be over after Erik Johnson made it 3-0 with a power-play goal at 8:36 that prompted Jalonen to call timeout. Kiprusoff stayed in, but was back at the bench 1:32 later when Patrick Kane scored the first of his two goals.
This time, Kiprusoff kept his mask on and marched straight down the tunnel toward the dressing room. He returned to the bench soon afterward and was in place in the corner in time to see Backstrom allow two goals on the first four shots he faced.
"The losing is fine as long as you play your best game and the other team beats you," forward Teemu Selanne said, "but today's case it was a nightmare."