VANCOUVER — Barely two minutes into the game, Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was staring at the ceiling in disbelief.
It turns out he was just getting started.
The Lightning's Ryan Malone raced into Finland's zone, picked off Kiprusoff's ill-advised pass and scored into an empty net. The U.S. rout was on.
What happened next in this men's hockey semifinal jolted Canada Hockey Place: The Americans scored four times on Kiprusoff, the Flames' No. 1 goalie, in a six-goal first period Friday, winning 6-1 and surging into the gold-medal game.
Sunday, the United States must beat Canada for a second time in eight days to win its first gold since the Miracle on Ice in 1980. Canada set up the rematch of Sunday's preliminary-round game by surviving a late Slovakia flurry to win its semifinal 3-2. Finland and Slovakia play for the bronze tonight.
"It was a crazy 12 minutes," said forward Patrick Kane, who scored twice, of the Americans' first period. "I've never been a part of something like that. It seemed like we were scoring every shift."
It felt even longer to the Finns.
"The game is over after six minutes," Finland and Ducks forward Teemu Selanne said. "It was a long day and very disappointing."
By the time Kiprusoff left the game 10:08 in, the United States had a 4-0 lead on seven shots. He had allowed four goals total on 75 shots in three previous games, giving him the top save percentage in the tournament.
Kiprusoff's day appeared to be over after the Blues' Eric Johnson made it 3-0 with a power-play goal at 8:36. That prompted Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen to call timeout. Kiprusoff got a reprieve but was back at the bench 1:32 later when the Blackhawks' Kane scored his first.
This time, Kiprusoff kept his mask on and marched straight down the tunnel toward the dressing room. Backup goalie Niklas Backstrom of the Wild pulled off his baseball cap and took Kiprusoff's place in the net.
Things didn't go any better for him. Backstrom got beat twice on the first four shots he faced.
First Period—1, United States, Ryan Malone (unassisted), 2:04. 2, United States, Zach Parise (Paul Stastny, Brian Rafalski), 6:22 (pp). 3, United States, Erik Johnson (Joe Pavelski, Ryan Malone), 8:36 (pp). 4, United States, Patrick Kane (unassisted), 10:08. 5, United States, Patrick Kane (Brian Rafalski), 12:31. 6, United States, Paul Stastny (Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise), 12:46. Penalties—Janne Niskala, Finland (Interference), 5:59; Toni Lydman, Finland (Boarding), 7:02; Brian Rafalski, United States (Kneeing), 19:48.
Second Period—No scoring. Penalties—Jarkko Ruutu, Finland (Roughing), 7:52; Jarkko Ruutu, Finland (Misconduct), 7:52.
Third Period—7, Finland, Antti Miettinen (Sami Lepisto), 14:46 (pp). Penalties—Niklas Backstrom, Finland (Interference), 0:22; Ryan Malone, United States (High Sticking), 2:43; Sami Lepisto, Finland (High Sticking), 8:29; Erik Johnson, United States (Interference), 13:37.
Shots on Goal—United States 13-9-3—25. Finland 4-7-14—25. Goalies—United States, Ryan Miller. Finland, Miikka Kiprusoff. Finland, Niklas Backstrom, 10:08. United States, Tim Thomas, 48:29.
Canada 3, Slovakia 2: Canada opened up a three-goal lead, then held off a late Slovakia comeback to get a chance to win its first men's hockey gold medal on home ice.
The Sharks' Patrick Marleau, the Stars' Brenden Morrow and the Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf scored in the opening 24 minutes to give Canada a seemingly safe 3-0 lead before Slovakia, a semifinalist for the first time, created a tense finish with goals from the Oilers' Lubomir Visnovsky and the Kings' Michal Handzus less than four minutes apart in the third period.
The Canadians didn't come out like "gorillas from a cage," as Russian goalie Ilya Bryzgalov described them after their relentless, aggressive offense produced four goals in the first period of a 7-3 rout of Russia on Wednesday. The no-risk Slovaks wouldn't let them; Slovakia didn't play a delay game, but it didn't allow the Canadians much open ice or concede any possessions.
Goalie Roberto Luongo, winning his third in a row in his NHL home arena since replacing benched Martin Brodeur, faced only nine shots in the first two periods and 21 overall. He lost his shutout when Visnovsky scored at 11:35 of the third. Then Handzus scored at 15:07, and a safe lead suddenly became a tentative one, especially when Pavol Demitra of the Canucks almost tied it in the final five seconds, only to have his shot sail wide.
First Period—1, Canada, Patrick Marleau (Shea Weber, Scott Niedermayer), 13:30. 2, Canada, Brenden Morrow (Chris Pronger, Ryan Getzlaf), 15:17. Penalties—No penalties.
Second Period—3, Canada, Ryan Getzlaf (Corey Perry, Chris Pronger), 16:54 (pp). Penalties—Drew Doughty, Canada (Hooking), 1:29; Zdeno Chara, Slovakia (Roughing), 6:08; Richard Zednik, Slovakia (Holding the Stick), 16:34.
Third Period—4, Slovakia, Lubomir Visnovsky (Jozef Stumpel), 11:35. 5, Slovakia, Michal Handzus (Richard Zednik, Miroslav Satan), 15:07. Penalties—No penalties.
Shots on Goal—Canada 10-11-7—28. Slovakia 4-5-12—21. Goalies—Canada, Roberto Luongo. Slovakia, Jaroslav Halak.