After landing four consecutive shutouts, Finland had seemingly become impossible to score on until today’s bout against Belarus, which ended in a shootout with Finland taking it 3-2. Despite being scored on twice, Pekka Rinne managed to go 237 minutes and 5 seconds without being scored on, a new modern-day record for the IIHF World Championship, breaking the previous record held by Slovakia’s Jan Lasak.
Rinne managed to help carry his team to the win, keeping the game tied up and helping to lead them through the shutout, blocking all shots that came his way before collecting the honors for best player in the game and being praised by his teammates.
“There is a reason why Rinne is a Vezina candidate in the US,” said Tuomo Ruuto. “He is a top notch goaltender and one of the best, if not the best in the game.”
Rinne spent the first 14:31 of the first period blocking all shots that came his way before Belarus’ Yevgeni Kovyrshin sent the puck home on a one-timer pass from Andrei Stepanov, putting their team up 1-0 and taking the early lead against the Finns. The first period came to an end with the Finns looking to even up the score while Belarus had other plans, needing to make up for the 7-0 loss against Russia.
While Finland didn’t generate too much in the first, Belarus had a lot more to deal with in the second as the fighting Finns stepped up their game and created a lot more opportunities for themselves. 19 year-old Aleksander Barkov had a close call as he came into the attack zone with a beautiful dangle, slipping the puck through his own legs and taking the shot, but it was stopped by Vitali Koval. Finland also managed to get a pretty tough breakaway on Belarus, but Koval remained strong and got a pad on Joonas Donskoi’s shot and keeping the slate clean for his team.
Finland didn’t manage to get themselves on the board until the third period of play when Esa Lindell sent Donskoi a pass from the blue line, who fired it to the net on a one-timer and tied the game up. Finland’s captain, Jussi Jokinen, also got the assist on that goal. The tie only lasted about a minute before Finland’s Teemu Hartikainen got one past Koval and made the game 2-1. It almost looked like Finland had the game won, but after Belarus pulled Koval, Belarus captain Alexei Kalyuzhny fired off a shot that beat Rinne and sent the game into overtime.
Finland dominated most of overtime, but wasn’t able to beat Koval. The clock winded down and soon enough the game was heading into a final shootout. Jarkko Immonen, Joonas Donskoi and Jussi Jokinen all managed to defeat Koval in the shootout while Pekka Rinne kept the puck out of Finland’s net, giving Finland the goal and the win, tying them in points with Russia, who they will be facing in the final game of the Preliminary round.