Canada 3, Finland 2
The World Cup returned to Canada after 13 long years.
Joe Sakic, Scott Niedermayer and Shane Doan scored on the first shot of each period Tuesday night, and Martin Brodeur shook off a wrist injury to make 27 saves in Canada's 3-2 win over Finland in the World Cup of Hockey championship game.
The host nation celebrated the victory, but the joy was tempered because the NHL is set to impose a lockout on Wednesday because of a labor dispute with the players association.
But Canada will always have this victory to savor.
Fans counted down the final seconds that could be the last ones played in North America by Mario Lemieux and Finland's Teppo Numminen if the NHL lockout lasts a year or longer as feared.
Canada clinched the tournament, formerly known as the Canada Cup, for the first time since 1991. The Canadians lost the World Cup in 1996 to the United States but rebounded to win the event for the fifth time. Canada has reached the final all seven times the tournament has been held.
Doan netted the clincher just 34 seconds into the final period when he cut from the corner and came in front to take Joe Thornton's no-look, backhand pass from behind the goal and give Canada a 3-2 lead.
Miikka Kiprusoff only allowed six goals in Finland's first five games. He withstood tons of late pressure and kept it close, but his teammates couldn't net the equalizer in the biggest hockey game in the history of the small European nation.
Finland was in the final of the eight-team tournament for the first time.
Sakic started the party early for Canada (6-0) when he took a beautiful pass from Lemieux in the slot and fired a shot past Kiprusoff 52 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Riku Hahl, playing in place of the benched Ville Nieminen, tied it at 6 minutes 34 seconds when he deflected Toni Lydman's shot from the point past Brodeur.
The first period set a tone not expected in this matchup.
Finland reached the finals with a 4-0-1 mark by playing tight defense and waiting to capitalize on mistakes. Yet, the Finns couldn't keep the high-flying Canadians from three quick strikes that snapped ties.
Canada recorded its first shot of the second period 3:15 in, and it was one that Kiprusoff will likely agonize over for however long he waits for the NHL to resume play. Niedermayer lifted a relatively harmless-looking shot from the left circle, but it managed to get between the Calgary Flames goalie's pads and put Finland behind 2-1.
A superb individual effort by Tuomo Ruutu got Finland into another tie just before the second period ended.