Canada vs. Finland: Live score, highlights, updates from 2021 World Juniors

The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship officially starts now for Canada.

While their spirits are high after downing their first three opponents by a combined 29-3 score, the Canadians face their biggest test thus far in a New Year's Eve showdown with Finland — and they cannot drop the ball. 

"It's a really big game," said Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens, who leads the team with nine points. "I think we've excelled as a team a lot throughout these first three games and the exhibition game. Just got better and better every single game. I think we're all really happy with where we're at right now but we know it's just going to keep getting harder every single game from here on out so we just got to take things one day at a time and just keep improving every day."

The game has big implications: The winner will snag the top spot in Group A and the loser will have to face Sweden or the United States (positioning will be decided after Team USA plays Sweden at 9:30 p.m. ET) — not a joyous beginning to 2021 for any team. 

"We want to win every game," head coach Andre Tourigny said during a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. "I think we came here to win every game and every game we feel the urgency to do it. I think we are a proud team, a proud country and that's why we're here. We're here to win, win our games. So, how important? It's a good question. I didn't measure it, or whatever, just want to win. So, want to win every day and today's not any different."

Finland enters the game with the same spotless 3-0-0 record while sporting the type of offensive power and defensive prowess the Canadians have not yet seen. Panthers prospect and team captain Anton Lundell has been a force up top with six points (three goals, three assists) alongside linemate and Kings prospect Kasper Simontaival (two goals, three assists). The Maple Leafs' Roni Hirvonen (four assists) has been centering the dynamic duo.

On the back end, Finland has allowed just four goals, on the same number of shots (48) as the Canadians have allowed over three games. Leafs prospect Topi Niemela has posted six points from the blue line, while the Jets' top prospect, Ville Heinola, and his partner Santeri Hatakka (San Jose) have led the way on D.

"They're a crazy skilled team and very, very good, so it's going to be a good battle," said Cole Perfetti, also a Jets prospect, who notched his first goal of the tournament against Switzerland. "It's going to be good for us to, heading into the medals rounds, to play a team like Finland to get us prepared, to tune up on our defensive side of the game and stuff that we haven't had to work on as much in the last couple games."

The Canadians have gotten offensive production across the board, with 20 of 21 skaters collecting at least a point. Against Switzerland, Kings prospect Quinton Byfield, the second overall pick in 2020, emerged with six points, and he has looked solid playing with the Flames' Jakob Pelletier and the Sabres' Jack Quinn.

All lines will remain the same, said Tourigny — why fix what isn't broken? — and the calm, steady Devon Levi (Panthers) will be back between the pipes.

There may not be revelers in the stands, but this one is sure to have some New Year's Eve fireworks. 

Sporting News has all the action as Canada and Finland look to end 2020 on a high when they battle it out for the top spot in Group A.

Canada vs. Finland scores, highlights from 2021 World Juniors

(All times Eastern)

Third period

7:57 p.m. — Heinola takes a shot off the right hand and can't even hold his stick. Not great news for the Finns — or the Jets — as he would go to the locker room.

7:55 p.m. — Roni Hirvonen takes an offensive zone penalty. Canada gets a power play.

7:53 p.m. — PP GOAL. What a shot by the 17-year-old Brad Lambert as he gets the puck in the left circle and rifles the wrister that goes off Thomas Harley's stick and in. Canada leads 3-1.

7:51 p.m. — Dylan Cozens takes an offensive zone minor. Finland gets its first power play. They're 4-for-12 in the tourney.

7:50 p.m. — Another crossbar for Connor McMichael. No. 3?

7:47 p.m. — Devon Levi makes a good stop on a point shot. Finland looking a little better to start the third.

7:46 p.m. — Final frame.

Second period: Canada 3, Finland 0

7:25 p.m. — Good pad save by Kari Piiroinen on a shot from the right circle.

7:25 p.m. — Canada gets another power play. They're 0-for-3 so far with the man advantage but a goal here would seal the deal. (Update: They do not score.)

7:23 p.m. — About 150 seconds left in the period and Canada has 30 shots on net and, more importantly, three goals.

7:18 p.m. — GOAL. Canada's forecheck and offensive zone control is crushing Finland. Bowen Byram's shot is stopped and Peyton Krebs buries the rebound with his back to the play and between his legs. He's had himself a game. Canada up 3-0.

7:17 p.m. — Canada's forecheck is off-the-charts good. Dawson Mercer with a one-timer from the slot.

7:15 p.m. — Alex Newhook will not return with an upper-body injury.

7:10 p.m. — Finland finding some offense as they get one off the pipe. They now have five shots on net.

7:07 p.m. — GOAL. Jakob Pelletier skating now with the Dylans, Cozens and Holloway, and they are all over the Finns. Pelletier gets the puck in atop the circles, turns and shoots and it goes off Holloway and in. Flames prospect to an Oilers prospect. Canada leads 2-0.

7:06 p.m. — Canada didn't score on the man advantage and after the power play Finland finally got its second shot on net.

7:01 p.m. — Canada goes back to the power play as Heinola called for interference. Canada 0-for-2 in the game with three shots.

6:59 p.m. — Newhook went to the locker room. He took a hard hit in the first period and tried to give-it-a-go on the first shift of the second but didn't last long.

6:56 p.m. — The second period is underway. Some first-period stats: Canada 17 shots on goal to Finland's one. Per TSN's Ray Ferraro, Canada made 58 passes in the period to Finland's eight.

First period: Canada 1, Finland 0

6:36 p.m. — Canada doesn't score but gets two shots on net.

6:34 p.m. — Another power play for Canada. The team is 0-for-1 with 1 shot so far in the game.

6:30 p.m. — Devon Levi is so calm and steady in net. Scorebug notes only one save from earlier but he definitely made two pads stops on shots up close.

6:26 p.m. — Jakob Pelletier breaks in all alone but just misses and Piiroinen makes the pad save.

6:26 p.m. — Connor McMichael comes out of the corner, spins and shoots. Good chance stopped by the Finnish netminder.

6:24 p.m. — Eleven minutes in and Devon Levi has seen one shot (and it was an easy one to stop).

6:18 p.m. — Eight minutes in and the Canadians are outshooting the Finns 9-0. Kari Piiroinen has looked ok but he's definitely a bit shaky in net for Finland (not sure if he has the puck, looking back to see, etc.)

6:17 p.m. — Great play by Ryan Suzuki to feed Quinton Byfield on his wing. Byfield gets a good scoring chance on the power play. Earlier on the man advantage, McMichael hit the pipe.

6:16 p.m. — Canada gets a power play to extend its lead.

6:13 p.m. — GOAL. Dylan Cozens, sporting the "C" tonight, off a neutral zone turnover that becomes a 3-on-1 and he keeps and beats Kari Piiroinen short side. Canada leads 1-0.

6:11 p.m. — Quinton Byfield gets cross-checked and takes a stick to the face from his teammate Jack Quinn. He's ok but has to leave as he's bleeding.

6:09 p.m. — Canadians jump out on a 3-on-2 and McMichael gets a solid chance down the left wing.

6:08 p.m. — First shift and the Canadians are flying.

6:08 p.m. — Game on and as the referee said, "Let's end 2020 on a high note."

Pregame

5:53 p.m. — Almost game time.

5:33 p.m. — The winner plays the Czechs. The loser gets Sweden or the United States. A lot on the line.

5:03 p.m. — Agreed.

5:01 p.m. — New Year's Eve drip.

World Juniors 2021: Latest news

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