T.J. Oshie, Ryan Kesler and Derek Stepan scored, Jonathan Quick made 30 saves and the United States beat Finland 3-2 Tuesday night in each team’s final exhibition game before the World Cup of Hockey.
The U.S. was the better team for more than two periods but needed stops from Quick in the final seconds to preserve the victory. Patrik Laine and Jussi Jokinen scored for Finland, which finished strong.
Despite the late goals, the Americans almost certainly will have Quick in net for their World Cup opener against Team Europe after the Los Angeles Kings goaltender stopped 63 of the 66 shots he faced in exhibition play.
Finnish goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 26 of 29 shots. Finland must decide between Rinne and the Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask before its opener Sunday against Team North America.
U.S. coach John Tortorella still has decisions to make, but his changes for the Finland game paid dividends and could stick.
Playing with new linemates Max Pacioretty and Kesler and in front of Capitals fans, Oshie scored 1:08 into the game and was flying all night. Pacioretty helped set up Kesler’s goal 3:37 into the second and gave Tortorella more of what he wanted out of him after a public admonishment.
Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien even made an impact playing forward, crushing Finnish defenceman Olli Maatta with an open-ice hit. That wasn’t one of the better moments for Maatta, among the Finns who struggled in their final World Cup tuneup.
Finland’s young defence couldn’t handle the U.S. speed, and a mistake by Jyrki Jokipakka led to Stepan’s five-hole goal on Rinne at 5:34 of the second. Goals elicited “U-S-A” chants from the crowd that was smaller than the announced attendance of 15,653 but got into the fast-paced, physical action.
Quick was locked in for the U.S., lifting his left pad to stop Aleksander Barkov on a Finland power play and making save after save until Laine beat him with a perfect shot on the power play and then Jokinen scored off a loose puck in front.