Wed, May 11, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Czech Republic, Canada top their groups at worlds

AFP, BRATISLAVA

Finland goaltender Teemu Lassila, right, makes a save against Russia’s Alexander Ovechkin during their game at the World Championships in Bratislava on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Reigning world champions the Czech Republic and Olympic gold medalists Canada both won their final round of group matches on Monday to top their groups at the world championships.

The Czech Republic finished the group stage unbeaten as they delivered a confident performance in beating Germany 5-2 in their Group E match.

Canada had a tougher fight as they edged Sweden 3-2 in what was a decider in Group F.

The Czech Republic got off to an ideal start when Petr Prucha opened the score after 51 seconds, but Germany’s John Tripp leveled after 1 minute, 49 seconds.

Chicago Blackhawks striker Michael Frolik made it 2-1 for the Czechs halfway into the first period with a help of a ricochet. Karel Rachunek, Tomas Plekanec and Patrik Elias added one apiece in the second period for a commanding 5-1 advantage, while Thomas Greilinger grabbed a consolation with 1:34 to go.

Canada were 2-1 up after the opening period, scoring through Pittsburgh Penguins’ James Neal and New York Islanders’ John Tavares, while Sweden replied with a power-play goal by David Petrasek.

Mathias Tedenby of New Jersey Devils leveled midway into the second period, also on a power play, but Minnesota Wild rear guard Brent Burns netted the power-play winner 12:31 into the third with a wrist shot from the blue line.

Finland, meanwhile, battled back from two goals down to beat Russia 3-2 in a penalty shootout in the early Group E encounter.

Russia looked set fair for a comfortable win when they held a 2-0 lead with the match just four minutes old.

Nikolai Kulyomin scored their first, redirecting defender Dmitri Kulikov’s shot into the net between Petri Vehanen’s pads. Blueliner Ilya Nikulin added his goal just 11 seconds later, scoring from Danis Zaripov’s pass from behind the goal-line, forcing Finland manager Jukka Jalonen to substitute goalie Vehanen for Teemu Lassila, but after the interval everything went wrong for Russia.

Finland skipper Mikko Koivu reduced the arrears 6:29 into the second period, redirecting Pasi Puistola’s shot into the net, while Janne Niskala pulled them level with a powerful shot 3:21 before the second interval.

After a goalless third period and overtime the Finns scored twice in the tiebreak for a win, while Russia missed both of their attempts.

“We made too many mistakes and the game went in another direction,” Russia coach Slava Bykov said.

“Penalty shots seem to be good for us in the tournament,” Jalonen said. “The Russians are a good team, but we tried hard and came back.”

In the early Group F match, Switzerland, already without a chance for a playoff spot, battled back from a goal down to beat the US 5-3.

Craig Smith put the US 1-0 up after 11:01, but Kevin Lotscher and Raphael Diaz replied with one apiece in the first period to give Switzerland a 2-1 lead.

Veteran Ivo Rutheman netted Switzerland’s third 1:06 into the second. Ryan Shannon made it 3-2 after 26:09, but Lotscher restored Switzerland’s two-goal advantage with his second goal of the match.

James van Riemsdyk revived US hopes making it 3-2 after 58:17, but Ryan Gardner rounded off the scoring with just 17 seconds remaining to dash the US’ hopes.

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