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Finland blasts Austria early, cruises to 8-4 win

Feb 13, 2014, 5:25 AM EDT

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men AP

The consensus is that if Finland goes deep in this Olympic tournament, it will be by keeping the score low. That said, the Finns displayed some firepower — especially early on — defeating Austria 8-4 in their Olympic opener on Thursday.

The Finns generated a 4-2 lead in the first period and added two more goals in the second and third, eventually doubling Austria up. To little surprise, the shot disparity was severe at 52-20.

Scoring was spread around pretty evenly for Finland. Mikael Granlund scored two goals and an assist to lead the way;  Jarko Immonen, Petri Kontiola, Olli Maata and Sami Lepisto scored the others.

Austria’s Michael Grabner registered a hat trick in defeat.

It wasn’t all great news for Finland on the day, though. Teemu Selanne didn’t play in the last 40 minutes of the game and a trainer was seen massaging his neck on the bench during the first period. Naturally, Finland might have been playing it safe with the 43-year-old in a game that wasn’t particularly competitive (Selanne still finished with an assist), but it’s a situation to watch moving forward.

Austria is by no means a world hockey power, as its best talent is at the forward position with the likes of Thomas Vanek and Grabner. They’re unlikely to out-score their problems most nights, as opposing offenses could have a field day with goalies Bernhard Starkbaum (all eight goals allowed), Mathias Lange or Rene Swette.

With such a flawed opponent in mind, it’s difficult to take too much away from a game like this. Still, Finland made the statement it can light up the scoreboard — at least against lesser teams.

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