TURIN, Italy - All this talent on the Canadians’ men’s hockey team, and nothing to show for it. No wins in two weekend Olympic games. No chemistry. Worst of all, no goals.
0 Canada, indeed.
Teemu Selanne scored his sixth goal in four games and Finland stayed unbeaten in Olympic round-robin play, beating gold-medal favorite Canada 2-0 Sunday — the Canadians’ second shutout loss in as many days.
The flying Finns — and they certainly have been while going 4-0 — overcame Canada’s physicality and size advantage with excellent puck movement, transitional play and a strong game in net by Antero Niittymaki, who made 24 saves.
Finland took advantage of Canada’s unfamiliarity with the bigger international ice surface and a lack of continuity among Canada’s four lines, which coach Pat Quinn juggled after a stunning 2-0 loss to Switzerland on Saturday.
“We kind of looked dopey, quite frankly,” a perplexed Quinn said. “We had bad pursuit. We skated to areas where nobody else was — ‘I’ll be clear over here, I’ll be fine,’ but you’re not fine — and we didn’t have any teamwork.”
By winning, Finland secured the top spot in Group A and will play the fourth-place team from Group B in the quarterfinals, almost certainly the U.S. (1-2-1), on Wednesday.
“It’s the first big step to win this group,” coach Erkka Westerlund said. “But I haven’t talked to them yet about the next opponent.”
Niko Kapanen also scored during a two-goal Finn first period and Niittymaki, of the Philadelphia Flyers, made the lead stand up even as Canada pressured repeatedly. Canada outshot Finland 19-16 over the final two periods after trailing 12-2 in shots late in the first period.
Canada has taken 73 shots in its last two games, including the historic loss to Switzerland that was its first loss to that tiny country in Olympic play, but has not scored since the final minute of its 5-1 win over Germany on Thursday.
“We’ve certainly had a few games we don’t like too well,” Quinn said. “We’ve had a lot of good individual play but that’s not how you win a gold medal.”
It’s not panic time for the defending gold medalists, who didn’t begin playing like a cohesive team instead of a cast of individual stars until midway through the 2002 Salt Lake City games.
“It takes time,” Quinn said. “Hopefully it doesn’t take too much time because you will be out of here.”
But the fact that scorers such as Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla can’t get the puck in the net must be perplexing Quinn and executive director Wayne Gretzky.
“They were a little bit frustrated,” Finland’s Olli Jokinen said. “We got off to a good start and we outskated them in the first 10 minutes in the game, and we were able to get two goals.”
Canada had not been shut out in consecutive Olympic games since it failed to score in its final three games in 1984.
“We’ve got to get better,” Kris Draper said. “We haven’t done it for a couple of games, and we’ve got to find a way real quick.”
This game effectively meant little — both teams are moving on from Group A to the quarterfinals that start Wednesday, and all that matters is positioning. Slovakia (4-0) leads Group B, but Russia (3-1) has won three in a row and Sweden (3-1) beat Canada in 2002, so finishing first or last might not make much difference.
But if this continues much longer — the Canadians finish round-robin play Tuesday against the Czech Republic — Canada’s player selection may come under further scrutiny.
Finland certainly looked fresh despite coming off an intense 4-2 win over the Czechs the night before, with Selanne making it 1-0 midway through the first. Saku Koivu outfought Chris Pronger for the puck behind the net and shoveled it in front to Selanne, whose shot may have tipped off goalie Roberto Luongo’s glove.
Kapanen scored slightly more than four minutes later, after a shot from the high slot off a faceoff win ricocheted hard off the back boards to the front of the net, allowing Kapanen to stuff it in.
Canada captain Joe Sakic wore a full visor after being cut on his left cheekbone against Switzerland. X-rays were negative.
“We’re facing adversity now, but it’s better it be now than later,” Sakic said. “As the game went on, we did a better job keeping it together, but we’re still not together.”