While two Group A giants went at it in a 1-0 Sweden win over the United States, two Group B favourites prepared for their own big matchup. Team Russia, fresh off a shootout win over the Czech Republic, took on the 1-0 hosts in front of a sold out crowd in Helsinki.
And the Finns, who dominated Belarus in a 6-0 win to open the tournament, didn't disappoint the hometown crowd early on, opening the scoring with a goal from Hurricanes prospect Sebastian Aho on a rebound from a Jesse Puljujarvi shot.
But just 24 seconds into a Russian powerplay, after a Miro Keskitalo tripping penalty, the away team answered back with a goal from Krill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild) from top Flyers prospect Ivan Provorov.
With the crowd defeating after a no-goal call on a jam play in the crease, Finland eventually did get their second goal of the game on a tip from top 2016 prospect Patrik Laine on a long floating shot -- that looked to be going wide -- from Puljujarvi.
Puljujarvi, also a projected top-five pick in 2016, picked up a his second assist of the game and fifth point of the tournament to help send Finland into the first intermission up 2-1.
And Puljujarvi wasn't done with two points, picking up the primary assist on a pass from behind the net to setup Rangers prospect Aleksi Saarela for the 3-1 lead early in the second period.
After Finland peppered goaltender Alexander Georgiev with 11 shot before the 12-minute mark of the period (23 on the game at that point), they headed to another powerplay.
On the Finnish powerplay, it was the Russians creating the chances. After Kapanen broke up a Andrei Svetlakov breakaway, the Russian speedster got the puck back moments later and beat Vehvilainen short-side high to cut the Finnish lead to 3-2.
Shortly later, the Russians continued to gain some momentum thanks to a Finnish too many men penalty. On a entering pass from Pavel Kraskovski, Kestikalo bent down to one knee to block the attempt only to redirect it in past Vehvilainen to cap off the Russian comeback from down 3-1.
And with the own goal, the floodgates opened as Russia went on to add two more goals from Alexander Polunin and captain Vladislav Kamanev.
Despite outshooting Russia 25-19 after two periods, the Finns surrendered four unanswered goals and trailed 5-3 heading into the third.
In the third period, Finland looked to tie it up on a jam play in front of the net with the puck lying on the goal line. After an extended seven-minute delay for video review, the play was called a goal and awarded to Saarela.
But in a bout of deja-vu, Russia regained the two-goal lead after another centring pass went off Keskitalo's skate and in -- the goal was credited to Flyers prospect Radel Fazleyev this time.
Despite some late pressure, the Finns were unable to claw back, and fell 6-4 and to 1-1 on the tournament.
- Created a few chances in the first period on a line with Mikko Rantanen. Active defensively too. Nothing to show for strong play through first four periods.
- His line drew a penalty in the second period with him and Rantanen going to the net. Broke up a near-breakaway for Svetlakov with the man advantage only to passively pursue a loose puck moments later on route to a Russian goal. Had two chances late in the period, one of which didn't hit the net.
- Kapanen was on the ice for the controversial 5-4 goal but wasn't involved in the pressure in front of the net. Kapanen was taken off of Rantanen's line midway through the third period, either because they weren't scoring to to spread out the scoring threats. Did some really good work in the corner that led to a chance at 4-on-4. Was stationary on a puck pursuit down two goals with under five minutes left -- odd. Broke up a pass that could have led to an empty net goal against, dove for a puck to keep it in at the offensive zone blueline, and screen Georgiev on a couple of shots late in the game.
- 2GP, 0PTS