'We got away with one'

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

For the first time in more than 50 years, Canada is in a position to win its third consecutive world hockey title.

The opportunity arose as a result of an uneven effort yesterday -- at times brilliant, at other times sloppy -- against Russia.

But the Canadians did what needed to be done to protect their lead and hold on for a 4-3 win. After watching a 4-0 lead almost disappear, Team Canada bore down and in the late stages, played a solid game.

"Those guys are on this team for a reason," coach Marc Habscheid said. "They are great players. They've been in this position before when it's close and its 4-3, and they're great players because they can excel in moments like that."

The Canadians knew they made a mid-game tactical error, but said it's a mistake they won't repeat.

"I don't think we should be surprised at what (Russia) did," said defenceman Sheldon Souray, who contributed a goal to Canada's efforts. "We let off the gas quite a bit, and obviously, with the firepower that the Russians have, that's what they do.

"They're a high-powered team. We got away with one, I think. I guess we can thank God we had Marty Brodeur. He made some huge saves.

"It's a lesson, and sometimes you learn hard lessons. Instead of it being 4-0, you want it being 5-0 instead of it being 4-3."

It was suggested to Brodeur that the last few minutes had been hectic.

"The last 30 minutes," he corrected. "Knowing the Russians, you know that they have a lot of skill, and because they're down so much, they're going to try some things offensively to get back in the game.

"We gave them the opportunity to do it in the second period by turning the puck over and letting them skate with it and letting them do whatever they wanted. In the first period, the reason we were successful is we got to their D and we drew penalties because of that."

So now, Brodeur and his mates are off to the gold-medal game against the Czech Republic, with a little bit of extra impetus.

"We definitely want to win this for the fans in Canada," said Brodeur.

"They are following us. They miss hockey so much. So for us to be able to win a gold medal game and hopefully bring a gold medal back to Canada is a gift that we're giving back to them."


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