Hockey world championship: Canada to meet Russia in final
Canada blanks host Czech Republic; Russia tops U.S.
Canada booked a place in the world ice hockey championship final with a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday as Mike Smith earned a shutout for the favourites to knock out the hosts.
Canada, who will face Russia in the final on Sunday, only mustered two goals due in large part to Czech goaltender Ondrej Pavelec who faced 41 shots and made a number of big saves to keep his team in the game.
The Czechs, playing in front of a boisterous crowd, were energized at the start and tested Canadian goalie Smith a number of times.
"They came out with a lot of strong pressure early but we wanted to keep our composure and execute," Canadian defenceman Jake Muzzin said.
"We knew they have a lot of skill and a lot of big guys that like to stay low and we tried to limit that."
Canada opened the scoring midway through the first period when Jordan Eberle held off a defenceman before sweeping it to Taylor Hall who tapped into the net for his seventh goal of the tournament.
Canada have been the highest-scoring team and have yet to lose in the tournament but the Czechs held the NHL-stocked side to under four goals for the first time.
"We haven't been challenged in a while and I was interested to see how we would respond," Hall said.
"It's been a while since Canada has been in the finals  and we are aware of that. There are a lot of guys on this team looking for their first world championship."
Canada last won the world championship in 2007.
Jason Spezza doubled the lead in the second period when he whipped in a wrist shot from just over the blue line.
Officials ruled out Czech goal
The Czechs appeared to have cut the advantage minutes later when Petr Koukal's slapshot floated into the net but the officials ruled out the goal.
Canada were also able to limit 43-year-old Czech great Jaromir Jagr who has carried his team throughout the tournament in what could be his last tournament for the national team.
"Each member of the team came here because he wants a medal and even though it is not going to be the finals we will fight for it tomorrow," forward Koukal said.
In Saturday's later semifinal, Russia beat the United States 4-0 to advance to the gold-medal game. The U.S. will play the Czech Republic, also on Sunday, for bronze.
The United States won 4-2 during group play but the Russians were boosted by the arrival of Alexander Ovechkin, whose NHL team were knocked out of the playoffs. Ovechkin, along with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin scored two of the Russians four third-period goals in the win.
Ovechkin, making his first appearance in the tournament following the end of his NHL playoffs run, found space in between the goaltender Connor Hellebucyk's pads three minutes after Russia opened the scoring on a goal by Sergei Mozyakin and later added an assist.
"The first couple of periods I didn't feel really well," said Ovechkin who arrived in Prague on Friday. "In the third, my legs started working. Tomorrow's gonna be final. It's gonna be fun, an interesting game."
Vadim Schipachyov made it 3-0, and Malkin finished off the Americans with 1:25 to go into an empty net.
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves.
"It was a great hockey game, tight, played tough by both sides," U.S. captain Matt Hendricks said. "We just weren't able to crack Bobrovsky tonight."
Russia will seek its third title in four years.
with files from CBC Sports