The United States advanced to the men's Olympic gold-medal hockey game after scoring six times in the first period of a 6-1 rout of Finland on Friday.
The Americans scored four times on Miikka Kiprusoff before Finland switched goalies.
The United States will meet the Canada-Slovakia winner on Sunday, 50 years to the day after capturing gold in the 1960 Winter Olympics. It's the second time in three Olympics the American men will play for gold, but they haven't claimed the top spot on the podium since the Miracle on Ice in 1980.
The six-goal outburst tied the U.S. Olympic record for goals in a period, a feat accomplished five other times but not since a 1964 win over Germany.
Finland, the silver medalists four years ago at the Turin Games, will have to settle for a shot at the bronze. This proud group of aging stars, including Teemu Selanne and captain Saku Koivu, earned bronze in 1998 when the NHL first started sending players to the Olympics. The Finns also eliminated the U.S. in the quarterfinals of the 2006 Games.
As the final minutes ticked down, American fans took a page from the host country's supporters and alternated with chants of "We Want Canada" and "U-S-A."
By the time Kiprusoff pulled himself out of the game after 10:08 of the first period, the U.S. had a 4-0 lead on only seven shots. Kiprusoff, who plays for the NHL's Calgary Flames, had allowed just four goals on 75 shots in his three previous games, giving him the top save percentage in the tournament.
Kiprusoff was replaced by Niklas Backstrom, who allowed two goals on the next four U.S. shots.
Kiprusoff had only himself to blame for the start of his nightmare. He left the crease to sweep away a puck and put it right on the stick of Ryan Malone, who quickly fired a shot from the top of the left circle into the vacated net for his third goal of the tournament.
Zach Parise and Eric Johnson were next to score, prompting Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen to call timeout. Patrick Kane scored the next two goals, and Paul Stastny netted No. 6.
The U.S. pulled goalie Ryan Miller with 11:31 left in the game, giving backup Tim Thomas his first appearance in the tournament.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun