LA Kings: Kim Nousiainen overcomes nerves, scores goal for Finland

LA Kings (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

LA Kings prospect Kim Nousiainen scored in his first game for Team Finland, helping his country top Norway on Tuesday.

The LA Kings were well-represented at the IIHF World Championships on Tuesday. Trevor Moore and Cal Petersen helped Team USA top a previously unbeaten Kazakhstan team. The Kings goalie was named Player of the Game for Team USA, stopping all 18 shots he faced.

In the Sweden/Switzerland contest, Adrian Kempe‘s three-point game propelled the Swedes to an easy 7-0 victory over the Swiss.

And in what has long been one of the fiercest rivalries in hockey, Team Finland topped Norway. Olli Maatta and Kim Nousiainen are the two Kings’ representatives on Finland, with the latter making his World Championships debut.

“Yeah, of course,” the 20-year-old responded when asked if he was nervous. “It was like [the] first game for me in the World Championship, so I was pretty nervous, like [in the] first period. But after the first period, I felt good and make my confidence a little bit better, and that helps.”

Must Read. The three biggest surprises of the LA Kings season. light

Nousianen, 20, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NHL Draft. He’s remained in Finland, playing for KalPa of Liiga. This past season, he tallied nine goals and 27 points in 54 games. He’s remained consistent offensively, but his defensive game has taken tremendous strides, going from a -7 to a +15 from last year to this.

On Tuesday, with Finland clinging to a 2-1 lead and less than six minutes gone in the second period, Nousiainen passed the puck to a waiting Jere Sallinen in Finland’s attacking zone. The LA Kings draft pick skated up-ice into the zone, was fed the pass from Sallinen, and Nousiainen fired a beautiful shot past Norway netminder Jonas Arntzen.

“I passed to Sallinen on the blue line. He went in, and I watched him from the blue line. He passed me the puck in the middle, and I got a good shot off,” Nousiainen said following Finland’s 5-2 win.

The Kuopio, Finland native logged 14:19 TOI and a +1 rating. He registered two shots on net, including the decisive goal. Finland sits in third place in Group B with seven points, tied with Latvia, and will play an Italy team on Thursday that has yet to record a win.

Hopefully, it will be a good opportunity for Nousiainen to continue developing confidence and perhaps more points.