Wed, May 07, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Canada tops group after taking Russia

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS The Czech Republic tied Slovakia, and Russia, which had just lost to Latvia, got a 5-2 beating from Canada

AP , HELSINKI, FINLAND

Shane Doan, lower left, of Canada trips goalkeeper Egor Podamatski of Russia during their ice hockey World Championship match in Turku, Finland, on Monday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Defending champion Slovakia tied the Czech Republic 3-3 Monday to win its qualification group at the World Hockey Championships while Canada beat Russia 5-2 to finish atop its group.

Ladislav Nagy of the Phoenix Coyotes salvaged the tie for the Slovaks with 6:06 left of the game before a crowd of 12,860 at Helsinki's Hartwall Areena.

Richard Lintner, a defenseman from the Pittsburgh Penguins, set up the goal with a brilliant cross-ice pass from his own end to Nagy, who skated in unchecked and beat Nashville Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun.

Slovakia, which has 16 NHL players on its star-studded roster, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn the point it needed to win the group and stay in Helsinki for the quarterfinals later this week.

"We're very happy to come back from 3-1 and get the tie," Slovakia head coach Frantisek Hossa said. "It shows the moral strength of this team. We're happy to stay in Helsinki."

The Czechs, who finished level on points with Slovakia in Group E but had inferior goal difference, will now travel to the coastal town of Turku, a two-hour bus ride northwest of the Finnish capital Helsinki, to play a yet undetermined opponent in Wednesday's quarterfinals.

The Czechs took a 3-1 lead in the second period behind goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins Martin Straka, who scored his second power-play goal of the game at 7:42, and David Vyborny of the Columbus Blue Jackets just 2:27 later.

The Slovaks' comeback started after the Czechs took two penalties late in the second period.

Pavol Demitra, the St. Louis Blues' leading scorer during the regular season and a late Slovak roster addition, cut the score to 3-2 with a wrister from the point through heavy traffic at 17:15.

"It was a crucial moment in the game when we took those penalties and let one in," Czech coach Slavomir Lener said. "We hope it's a wakeup call for the quarterfinals."

Straka put the Czechs ahead at 16:30 in the opening period. Lubomor Visnovsky of the Los Angeles Kings tied it 1-1 with another power-play goal early in the second session.

Ziggy Palffy, who led the Los Angeles Kings in scoring this season, set up Visnovsky's goal and increased his tournament scoring lead to seven goals and seven assists in seven games.

Jozef Stumpel of the Boston Bruins, the center on Slovakia's top line with Palffy and Richard Zednik as wingers, also got an assist on Visnovsky's goal. He's second in the scoring race with three goals and 10 assists.

In Turku, Canada's grind line scored four goals to lift the Olympic champions to a 5-2 win over Russia and first place in the Group F standings.

It marked the first time in three years the nations clashed in a major international tournament.

Coyotes Shane Doan and Detroit Red Wings Kirk Maltby -- on Canada's third line, or checking unit, and entrusted to neutralize Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk -- each scored twice, while Daniel Briere added the fifth.

Russia, which suffered a damaging 2-1 loss to minnow Latvia the previous day, no longer has its fate in its own hands and is now dependent on other teams in order to advance to the round of eight.

Old rivalry

Canada and Russia have forever evoked intense emotions in their matchups, particularly since Canada's legendary victory over the former Soviet Union in the first Summit Series in 1972.

"Anytime Canada plays Russia it's a special game. We're happy to be the ones celebrating tonight," said Coyotes goalie Sean Burke, who made 38 saves on the night. "There was a chippy element to it, which is not surprising. Obviously there are a lot of kids on their team who are post-cold war but there is still the knowledge.

This story has been viewed 2841 times.
TOP top