Canada wins world hockey championship

Canada capped off a remarkable world hockey championship run by winning the gold on Sunday, with a 4-2 victory over Finland.

Canada capped off a remarkable world hockey championship run by winning the gold on Sunday, with a 4-2 victory over Finland.

Rick Nash scored two of the goals, carrying a Finnish defender on his back on a breakaway goal to seal the game with just 1:06 left at Arena Khodynka in Moscow.

Nash, Eric Staal and Colby Armstrong had staked Canada to a three-goal lead before Finland rallied to dominate the third period and make it 3-2.
Tournament MVP Rick Nash, left, and team captain Shane Doan celebrate Canada's win Sunday in Moscow. ((Sergey Ponomarev/Associated Press))

Nash finished with six goals and five assists and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

"I don't have to tell you that Rick Nash probably took over this tournament for us," said forward Mike Cammalleri. "He stepped up and he was huge.

"That was some of the best hockey I've ever seen played."

Canada did not lose in the tournament, beatingnine separate countries by a combined score of 41-21. Thelargely unheralded group was one of the youngest professional teams Canada had ever assembled for the event.

In addition, a political firestorm erupted in Ottawa during the tournament over the selection of Shane Doan as team captain due to an alleged slur against French-Canadian officials in a 2005 NHL game in Montreal.

Hockey Canada defended Doan before Parliament's official languages committee, saying there was no evidence that hemade the remark,and the issue dissipated as quickly as it arose.

The victory is Canada'sfifth since 1994, but the firstsince 2004.

Coach Andy Murray was also behind the bench for the Canadian teams that won in 1997 and 2003.

On Sunday, Murray departed from his practice of alternating goaltenders Dwayne Roloson and Cam Ward.

Ward, who played in Saturday's semifinal,survived an early first period flurry to settle down and make 20 saves. The goaltender allowed just11 goals in his five starts in Russia.

"Right from when we started, we knew what we were capable of doing," said Ward. "We knew that we had the full support of the country of Canada.

"We're just glad we were able to get the job done."

Finland was looking to follow up on the country'sonly previous worldchampionship in 1995, but —even though president Tarja Halonen was in the crowd — did not manage to do so.

Petri Kontiola and Anti Miettinen scored, whileKari Lehtonen finished with 14 saves in a losing cause.

Nash and Staal each got their fifth goals of the tournament on the power play to jumpstart Canada.

Nash tallied at 6:30 of the opening period, beating Lehtonen over the right pad with his shot.

Just over seven minutes later, Staal then took a deft backhand pass from Cammalleri and redirected the puck past the Finnish netminder.

Finland continued to get into penalty trouble, but Canada could not score early in the second despite having a 5-on-3 advantage for nearly two minutes.

Armstrong rendered the missed opportunity moot, making his first goal of the tournament a crucial one. The Pittsburgh Penguin snapped a shot from the left face-off circle under Lehtonen's glove.

Finland came out with force in the third, with Ward setting aside Mikko Koivu on a power play.

The Finnsfinally got on the board at the 11:08 mark when Kontiola took a pass from Ville Peltonen in the slot and beat Ward.

Canada had a number of defensive breakdowns in the third, and Finland drew within one with just over two minutes left, when Miettinen picked up a loose puck and deposited it into the back of the net.
Nash celebrates after scoring the opening goal in Sunday's gold medal final. ((Janek Skarzynski/Getty Images) )

Just 70 seconds later, however, Nash took a pass from Matthew Lombardi for his outstanding individual effort, beating Lehtonen with a backhand move with Pekka Saravo draped on his back.

Lombardi finished with 12 points (six goals, six assists) to lead all Canadian scorers.

Ward, Staal, Justin Williams and Mike Commodore have won gold one year after being part ofa Stanley Cup team with Carolina.

Ward and Staal are the strongest contenders from that quartet to be invited to play for Canada's 2010 Olympic team and if so, would havea chance ataccomplishing therare "triple gold."

The tournament was also a rousing success for Steve Yzerman in his first outing as a general manager for Canada.

Russia takes bronze

Alexei Emelin, Sergei Zinoviev and Alexander Frolov scored earlier Sunday as Russia defeated Sweden 3-1 to capture the bronze medal.

The Russians were stunned 2-1 in overtime by Finland in Saturday's semifinal, their only loss during the two weeks of play.

Russiahas won thetournamentjust once since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1993.

Russians Alexei Morozov and Andrei Markov were named the tournament's top forward and defenceman, respectively, with Lehtonen selected as the best goaltender.

Canada will host the tournament for the first time in 2008. Games will be played in Halifax and Quebec City.

With files from the Canadian Press