Kuznetsov still chirping after win
SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency
|Russia forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov scores on Canada goaltender Scott Wedgewood during their World Junior Hockey Championship semifinal match at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 3, 2012. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - A lot of Canadian hockey fans wanted to see Evgeni Kuznetsov eat some crow.
But the brash Russian forward ended up feasting on the Canadians instead.
Kuznetsov has spent the past week poking Canada in the chest, insisting he wanted nothing more than to break the hearts of the host team and its fans.
Then he went out and did it.
The Washington Capitals prospect scored a hat-trick as part of a spectacular four-point performance to help the Russians earn a tense 6-5 win over Canada in Tuesday's semifinal.
He said the semifinal victory was just as satisfying as last year's gold-medal win over the Canucks.
"I can compare," Kuznetsov said, smiling like a butcher's dog.
"Same emotions. We're happy. I'm glad that Canada will not win gold this year."
Kuznetsov has refused to give the Canadian team even the slightest of compliments throughout the tournament.
And he wasn't shy about throwing a little salt on the wounds after Canada's emotional third-period rally fell short.
"I don't (think) Canada is good enough to score so many goals," Kuznetsov said. "I knew that the end of the game would be tough for us. I thought that the fourth and fifth goal would be enough."
When asked if the Russians, with back-to-back wins over Canada at the world juniors, have proven their superiority, he stuck the knife in one last time and gave it a twist.
"We just won and that question has become clear, so we're stronger than Canada."
Russian teammate Nail Yakupov, who is the consensus No.-1 pick for this summer's NHL Entry Draft, was elated with his team's win, which sets up a gold-medal showdown with the Swedes.
"We didn't finish strong," Yakupov said. "But we scored six goals and we beat Canada.
"We win. We're pretty excited. We beat Canada. Russia win. Russia better than Canada."
On this night, they were.
On Twitter: @SUNScottFisher