TURIN -- The good news: Team Canada finally scored a goal and won a game. The bad news: A loss to Russia today will knock the Canadian men's hockey team out of the Olympics.
After holding on for dear life in a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic in the final game of the preliminary round, Canada faces Russia -- which beat the U.S. 5-4 -- in quarter-final action today at Torino Esposizioni.
"It has been a great rivalry," Team Canada captain Joe Sakic said.
While the Canadians have struggled, with a 3-2 record in round-robin action, they're confident they'll be ready today.
"Now the real tournament begins," said goalie Martin Brodeur.
"It's going to be a war," said Russian winger Viktor Kozlov. "We know these games are always tough."
The Canadians have no interest in packing their bags and going home yet.
"I know this sounds like a cliche, but we've got to keep it simple," said Canadian centre Brad Richards, who opened the scoring on Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun at 7:37 of the first period. "We've got to play an up-and-down game and make sure that we're going north/south. I know that the team we're facing is going to try to go wide on us, but we're just going to have to deal with that."
While Canada was outshot 33-16 -- including 26-8 in the final two periods -- it at least solved a scoring drought that had stretched to 128 minutes, 11 seconds. Chris Pronger and Martin St. Louis also scored for Canada.
There was a scare in the second period when Brodeur twisted his right knee in a crease collision with Czech forward Peter Cajanek. Brodeur winced, then got up and played the rest of the way, later declaring he'll be "fine" for today's game.
"I know they don't allow the goaltender to wear the 'C' on his chest, but he could for us because he has been excellent," coach Pat Quinn said. "He makes the big saves and he gets the job done. That's what you need to be successful."
The Canadians know they have to play well today ... or hit the highway.
"Our game is coming along and we have to be at our best no matter (the opponent)," said winger Simon Gagne said. "We've got to shoot the puck more and we showed that we can get lucky goals. In this tournament, it's a lot easier if you can get ahead.
"We've shown some energy here and that's what we have to take into (today.)"
While the win over the Czechs wasn't pretty, Quinn noted it had been awhile since a Canadian team had beaten the Czechs in an international competition.
"We'll take that cookie," said Quinn.