Ice hockey-Russia blank Finland to set up tasty Canada clash

By Steve Keating

TORONTO, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Russia claimed a do-or-die 3-0 victory over Finland on Thursday to advance to the semi-finals of the World Cup of Hockey and set up a mouth-watering showdown with arch-rivals Canada.

Canada, who stormed through preliminary round play unbeaten to grab top spot in Group A, will face off against Russia on Saturday while Sweden, winners of Group B, take on Team Europe on Sunday.

Needing a win to clinch a spot in the last four, Russia got second period goals 79 seconds apart from Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Telegin, then rode the netminding of Sergei Bobrovsky to victory as they dashed Team North America's hopes of advancing.

Evgeni Malkin added a powerplay goal in the third while Bobrovsky stopped all 21 shots he faced for his first shutout of the tournament.

Canada-Russia is hockey's most storied rivalry and Saturday's semi-final shapes up as another classic with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, the sport's two biggest names, set to lead their respective teams into battle.

"It's Canada verses Russia, it's not two players," said Ovechkin, who set up Russia's first goal. "Two teams with a great history, it's going to be tough, it's going to be hard playing here in Canada, but it is also going to be fun.

"Tomorrow we are going to think how we beat Canada. The opportunity is huge."

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia's status as a hockey superpower has faded, causing the rivalry to lose some of its heat but none of the animosity.

Canada have won gold at three of the last four Winter Games while the once unstoppable Big Red Machine has sputtered along, limited to a single bronze.

Finland, who had knocked Russia out of the Sochi Olympics in the quarter-finals, looked ready to be the Russian bogeyman once again after a scoreless opening period.

But Russia broke the deadlock early in the second when Tarasenko took a nifty goalmouth feed from Ovechkin and redirected into an open net.

Just 1:19 later, Telegin added an insurance marker by stickhandling across the goalmouth and sliding the puck past a sprawling Tuukka Rask.

"The first period was kind of asleep, kind of a boring game. We didn't want to make a mistake and give them an opportunity to take the lead," said Ovechkin.

"They hit the crossbar and then we scored two goals right away. It kind of gave us some breathing room." (Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines
Help us learn more about Philly.com commenters. Click here to take this quick survey.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments
Continue Reading