Russia knocks off Canada
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
A pair of third-period goals, including a short-handed marker, dashed Canada’s medal hopes at the IIHF World Championship Thursday in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Alexei Kaigorodov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for Russia as they defeated Canada 2-1 in the quarterfinal.
Jason Spezza scored the lone goal for Canada, who went into the contest having won their previous six games of the tournament.
The Russians, meanwhile, went in with a 3-3 record, having lost their previous two games.
Russia will move on to face Finland in Friday’s semifinal. Sweden will face the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.
Canada took the play to Russia in the first period, firing 17 shots in the direction of goaltender Konstantin Barulin, who got the start in place of the injured Evgeni Nabokov.
Barulin, who plays with Atlant Mytishi in the KHL, made a number of big saves in the period to keep the game scoreless.
John Tavares came the closest to beating the Russian goaltender, firing a shot off the crossbar.
Canadian goaltender Jonathan Bernier was not as busy, but he too needed to make a handful of solid saves to keep the Russians off the board.
Spezza opened the scoring five and-a-half minutes into the second period, taking a breakaway feed from Alex Pietrangelo and sliding a shot between Barulin’s pads.
The lead held up through the second and nearly 10 minutes into the third.
While short-handed, Kaigorodov made a great play to tip the puck past Canadian defenceman Brent Burns, then Spezza to go in on a breakaway and snap a shot past Bernier.
Russia thought they had scored earlier in the period when Ilya Nikulin stepped into a shot from the point that hit the underside of the crossbar, then bounced down on the goal line and out.
Replays proved inconclusive whether the puck actually bounced inside the goal line.
In the end, it proved a moot point, as Kovalchuk scored the winner with just under eight minutes left in the contest, converting an Alexander Radulov centring pass from behind the net and firing it past Bernier, who finished the game with 18 saves.
Barulin turned away 36 shots for Russia.
It was the fourth consecutive year Canada has lost to Russia at the World Championship. They were knocked out at the same stage last year, while losing the gold-medal game to Russia in the previous two tournaments.