Teemu Selanne injury not believed serious in Finland’s rout of Austria

Teemu Selanne
Finland captain Teemu Selanne argues with a referee during an 8-4 victory over Austria n a men’s hockey group game.
(Alexander Nemenov / AFP/Getty Images)

SOCHI, Russia -- Finland got a bit more of a challenge than it expected in its Olympic hockey opener against Austria on Thursday, giving up a goal 36 seconds into the game and trailing twice in the first period before pulling away to an 8-4 victory at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

The Finns got a small scare when their captain, 43-year-old Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne, left the game after the first period because of what a team official called an upper-body injury. Selanne, playing in his sixth Olympics, received massage treatment on his neck while sitting on the bench
during the first period.

“Maybe he had the bad pillow,” suggested Finland and Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, who recorded three assists.

Team spokesman Janne Lahti said Selanne would be available to play in Finland’s next game, against Norway on Friday.


In deference to his age, Selanne hasn’t usually played both ends of the Ducks’ back-to-back sequences this season. But Friday’s game is the last of the day, so he would have extra time to recover, if needed.

“He’s fine. He’ll be back,” teammate Olli Jokinen said.

Before he left, Selanne picked up an assist to increase his career-Olympic scoring lead to 38 points. Mikael Granlund had two goals and an assist, and forward Jarkko Immonen scored twice.

Austria’s Michael Grabner, who plays for the NHL’s New York Islanders, had a hat trick in the losing cause. He scored his first goal 36 seconds into the game to stun the Finns, and Austria took a 2-1 lead at 9:19 of the first period. But Finland scored the next five goals and finished with 52 shots against Bernhard Starkbaum. Austria scored its goals on 20 shots against Tuukka Rask of the NHL’s Boston Bruins.


“We kept plugging away and going at it and finally we got the lead and protected it,” Rask said. “The first goal caught everybody sleeping. After that first goal we kind of woke up and didn’t let it bother us.”

Austria forward Thomas Vanek, who also plays for the Islanders, said his team knows its limitations and was pleased with its start.

“We were ready to play the game, which was good to see. In the back end, we knew we were not the quickest, the fastest,” he said. “Our goaltender, if we want to beat a team like this or any team, he needs to be the best player. I thought he was good for us, but not great. That’s not a knock on him. That’s just reality.”

It won’t get easier for Austria, which will face Canada on Friday.

“I think if guys didn’t know what to expect out of this tournament, they got a good reality check today,” Vanek said. “If a team like us scores four goals against Finland, if you were to tell me before the game we could score four, I’d think we have a chance. Then to let up eight, we’re not going to score that many. Our goalies need to be the best player and we need to help them out better.”


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