Kovalchuk, Russia shatter Canada’s semi-final dreams


Sat, May 14, 2011 - Page 19

Russia struck late with two third-period goals on Thursday to beat Olympic champions Canada 2-1 and book a spot in the ice hockey world championship semi-finals.

Russia were to play Finland in the last four yesterday after the team beat Norway 4-1. Holders Czech Republic face Sweden in the other semi-final.

Canada took the lead in the second period, when Jason Spezza latched onto Alex Pietrangelo’s pass to slip the puck past Konstantin Barulin for his fourth goal of the tournament.

The young Canadian team, led by Rick Nash, outshot the Russians by a wide margin, but Barulin made some spectacular saves to keep his side in with a chance.

Canada dominated until the last part of the third period, when Russian scored two quick goals. For the first, Alexei Kaigorodov stole the puck while on the penalty kill and skated in alone to give the goalie little chance.

A few minutes later, Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils slammed the door shut when he put Russia ahead, leaving it to Barulin to hold off a final flurry of shots.

“Both teams played their hearts out,” Canada coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We made a couple of mistakes in the third period and they ended up in our net. We couldn’t stretch the 1-0 lead when we had it.”

Earlier, Finland reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2008 after a comprehensive win over Norway.

Ken Andre Olimb fired Norway ahead with a penalty shot early in the second period, but Jarkko Immonen and Tuomo Ruutu quickly replied to put Finland ahead.

Immonen grabbed his second on a power play at 15.38 in the period to become the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals and Jani Lajunen made it 4-1.

Finland captain Mikko Koivu is excited to play Russia.

“I think we have to stay strong as a team and do things that we do good, and obviously try to do things a little better again and more forward,” Koivu said. “Obviously every game is always different, some games you have to play very good defense to win the game.”