VANCOUVER, British Columbia — 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.

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 jolted Canada Hockey Place: The Americans scored four times on Kiprusoff in a six-goal first period Friday, winning 6-1 and surging into the Olympic gold-medal game.

As the clock ran out, U.S. captain Jamie Langenbrunner led the celebration by banging his stick against the boards as his teammates hugged on the bench .

The United States will play for the gold medal Sunday against Canada, 50 years to the day after capturing gold in 1960 at Squaw Valley, Calif.

After knocking out Kiprusoff, the Americans added two more quick goals against backup Niklas Backstrom to take a 6-0 lead just 12:46 into the game.

“It was a crazy 12 minutes,” said forward Patrick Kane, who scored twice. “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 forward Teemu Selanne said. “It was a long day and very disappointing.”

By the time Kiprusoff was pulled just 10:08 into the game, the U.S. had a 4-0 lead on only seven shots. The Calgary Flames goalie had allowed four goals total in three previous games, giving him the top save percentage in the tournament.

“No one is ever as good as they look. And no one is ever as bad as they look, either,” Langenbrunner said.

Kiprusoff’s day appeared to be over after Eric Johnson made it 3-0 with a power-play goal at8:36. That prompted Finland Coach Jukka Jalonen to call timeout. Kiprusoff got a reprieve, but was back at the bench 1:32 later when Kane scored his first goal.

Things didn’t go any better for Backstrom, who was beaten twice on the first four shots he faced.

“We didn’t expect that in a million years,” U.S. defenseman Jack Johnson said of the blowout. “I don’t think anyone did, especially when you get down to the final four, but it happened for us and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

It will be the first time since 1972 the U.S. men will play for Olympic gold on foreign soil.

Kiprusoff had only himself to blame for the start of his misery. The U.S. cleared its zone with a nudge of the puck that sent it sliding slowly into the Finnish end. Phil Kessel raced after it and forced Kiprusoff to come way out of his crease. The goalie gently swept the puck away, but right onto the stick of Malone. He quickly fired a shot from the top of the left circle into the vacated net at 2:04.

Zach Parise made it 2-0 when he nestled a shot under the crossbar for a power-play goal at 6:22. It came off a perfect pass from Paul Stastny.

“Everything we tried went their way,” Backstrom said. “We’ve been dreaming about gold for a long time and now suddenly in 10 minutes it’s gone. It’s tough, but you don’t want to ever give up. You go out and play for your honor and your country.”

This marks the second time in three Olympics the American men will play for gold. They haven’t claimed the top spot on the podium since the 1980 Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid, N.Y.

“We believed we could win a gold medal. Now we have the opportunity,” Langenbrunner said.

So much for the Americans needing to ride the stellar play of Ryan Miller to win. Miller was relieved by Boston Bruins goalie Tim

Thomas with11:31 left in the game after stopping all 18 shots he faced. Miller had played every minute of the tournament until then.

Thomas allowed Antti Miettinen’s deflected goal with 5:14 left to spoil the U.S. bid for consecutive shutouts after a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Switzerland.

“We haven’t won anything yet,” Parise said. “We’re getting better and that would be the most important and rewarding thing.”

Finland, silver medalists four years ago in the Turin Games, will have to settle for a shot at the bronze. This proud group of aging stars, including Selanne and captain Saku Koivu, won bronze in 1998 when the NHL first started sending players to the Olympics.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.