Canada to go for world hockey gold

Canada will battle Finland for gold on Sunday at the men's world hockey championship in Moscow after beating Sweden 4-1 in semifinal action.

Canada will battle Finland for the gold medal on Sunday at the men's world hockey championship in Moscow after beating Sweden 4-1 in semifinal action.

Canada scored a trio of goals in just over seven minutes in the first period to gain a stranglehold on the game Saturday at Arena Khodynka in Moscow.

Mike Cammalleri, Jonathan Toews, Eric Staal and Rick Nashscored for Canada, which is 8-0.
Canada's Jonathan Toews dekes around Swedish netminder Johan Backlund for what held up as the winning goal. ((Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images) )

Canadian coach Andy Murray didn't depart from his practice of alternating goaltenders Cam Ward and Dwayne Roloson. Ward got the start and made 27 saves against the Swedes.

"We're both waiting on Andy to make the decision," said Ward, last year's Conn Smythe winner as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. "Obviously I hope to be playing tomorrow, it would be extremely exciting.

"But if not, Dwayne's got my full support and I'll have my cheering pom-poms out."

Finland stunned Russia midway through the overtime period to win 2-1 in an earlier semifinal on Saturday.

Canada will go for its first title since 2004 and fifthchampionship since 1994, when an unbeaten team ended a 33-year drought with a shootout victory over the Finns.

The Canadians were as surprised as anyone to instead see Finland earn a spot in the big game.

"I don't think anyone expected to beat Russia in this tournament and the Finns did it," said Canadian forward Rick Nash. "They outworked them, played aggressive.

"It was pretty impressive on their behalf."

Johan Davidsson scored the only goal for the Swedes, while Johan Backlund had 19 saves in net.

Cammalleriopened the scoring at 11:05 of the first on the power play.The Los Angeles Kingfired a shot from the right faceoff circle that appeared to deflect off Justin Williams, but Cammalleri was credited with the goal.

Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf also got a point on the play, his seventh assist of the tournament despite not joining the team untilits third game.

Just 78 seconds later, Canada's two youngest players, both born in 1988, increased the lead. Jordan Staal fed the puck from behind the Swedish net to Toews, whooverpowered a defender in the slot and, while falling down, slid the puck around Backlund.

Late in the period, Cammalleri threaded a long pass to Eric Staal, with the Carolina Hurricanes starskating in on a break and puttingthe puck between thenetminder's pads.

Ward was called upon just before the buzzer to make a glove save on a point shot from Dick Tarnstrom, wholast played in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers.

Canada was outplayed in the second but came out of the period with its lead intact.

Davidsson's shot from a faceoff deflected off Canadian defender Shea Weber's skate and past Ward at 6:13, but Nash replied.

The big Columbus Blue Jackets forwardpicked up a loose puck in his own end and wheeled down the right side of the ice, firing a shot past Backlund.

Matthew Lombardi got an assist forhis team-leading 10th point.

There was no scoring in the third despite a total of five penalties, three taken by Canada.

"I don't think the word easy comes into play at all when you're talking about the world championship and getting to the gold medal," said Cammalleri, who was part of the team that finished fourth in 2006. "Year after year, there's a number of teams that can win this tournament."

Finland upsets Russia

Finland has won in shootout and overtime in its two games in the elimination round.

Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu scored at 5:40 of the extra period in the win over Russia.It was the first time a Russian team had lost on Moscow ice at a world championship since 1957.
Finland's Mikko Koivu celebrates his winning goal in Saturday's semifinal in Moscow. ((Misha Japaridze/Associated Press))

The overtime goal cameafter a Tuomo Ruutu shoot-in. Koivu lifted the stick of goaltender Alexander Eremenko — who was attempting a pokecheck — and slid the puck into the empty cage.

Jukka Hentunen and Russia's Evgeni Malkin scored goals in a four-minute span midway through the first period for the only other scoring.

"One mistake, the puck is in the net," said Russian forward Sergei Brylin. "That's hockey, that happens. Their goalie played well and they played tight defensively in the neutral zone.

"We turned the puck over way too much in the neutral zone."

Eremenko stopped 17 shotsfor Russia. Kari Lehtonen starred for Finland, finishing with 29 saves.

Russia has won the tournament just once (1993) since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Russia had wonits first seven gamesen route to the semifinal, including a 5-4 over Finland in the preliminary round.

The Finns alsofell to Sweden in the qualifying round, but the losses haven't proved fatal.

Finland's only previous worldchampionship came in 1995.

Sweden and Russia will play for the bronze in Sunday's first game.

With its win, Canada avenged a close loss to Sweden in last year's semifinal in Latvia. The Swedes went on to become the first country to win a world championship and Olympic gold in the same year since the Soviet Union did it in 1968.

With files from the Canadian Press