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Russia 4, Finland 3

By Beth Harris
AP Sports Writer
Sunday, February 15, 1998; 2:42 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan (AP) — Down two goals early, the Russians sparked the biggest fight yet in the Olympic hockey tournament. Their skill with the puck, though, won them the game.

Alexei Morozov scored the go-ahead goal on a rebound with less than four minutes remaining Sunday as Russia held off Finland 4-3.

The Russians could earn the top seed in their group with a victory over the Czech Republic on Monday in the round-robin finale.

Jere Lehtinen scored two goals and Teemu Selanne had three assists for Finland, which twice blew two-goal leads in losing its second straight game. The Finns lost 3-0 to the Czech Republic on Friday.

The referee whistled 34 penalty minutes in the first period, including 10-minute misconducts to Russia's Andrei Kovalenko and Finland's Jyrki Lumme. The altercation gave fans at Big Hat arena a taste of the fighting common in NHL games.

With Russia trailing 2-1 late in the first period, Darius Kasparaitis decked Finnish goalie Jarmo Myllys and emotions boiled over. A major pileup ensued behind the net, with Kovalenko and Lumme exchanging blows.

The referees eventually ended the melee, and meted out the penalties. Alexei Yashin, hauled down on a breakaway moments earlier, was awarded the tournament's first penalty shot. But he missed wide right as the period ended.

Finland took a 3-1 lead in the third period. Selanne stole the puck behind the net and centered to Lehtinen, who beat Andrei Trefilov stick side.

A minute later, Sergei Nemchinov scored on a breakaway when the puck ricocheted off the back of Myllys' right leg.

Yashin made up for his penalty shot miss with a power-play goal to tie the game 3-3 in the second. Pavel Bure scored Russia's other goal, his third of the tournament, in the first period.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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