HALIFAX, May 13 – Russia and Canada closed out the qualification round on Monday with unbeaten records as they clinched the top spots in their groups at the World Ice Hockey Championships.,
Russia advanced out of Group E to the quarter-finals by beating Switzerland 5-3 while Canada beat Finland 6-3 and comes out of Group F riding a 15-game win streak at the Worlds. They will play Norway on Wednesday.
"We have been getting better and better as the tournament goes on," said Canadian forward Patrick Sharp, who had one of two short-handed goals for Canada against Finland.
"Finland have a good team and they play a physical game very similar to a National Hockey League team. But we wanted to get that No. 1 seed."
The format heading into the quarter-finals is different this year as there are no crossover games as the first-place team plays the fourth place team and second plays third in their own groups.
Finland finished second in Group F and will face the Americans on Wednesday. It will be the second game in four days between the countries. There is plenty of bad blood between them following a fight-filled qualification round game on Sunday.
Canada’s Shane Doan scored shorthanded in the first period, then added a second goal in the third in front of a crowd of 9,178 at the Metro Centre arena on Monday.
Dany Heatley also scored twice while Sharp and Ryan Getzlaf had a singles for Canada, which is hosting the tournament for the first time in the 100-year history of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Heatley’s goals were the tournament leading eighth and ninth for the Ottawa Senators forward, who is also Canada’s all-time leading scorer in the World Championships.
Canada is trying to capture their 25th title and become the first country to win the Worlds on home soil in 22 years.
Asked about the win streak and if they are feeling unbeatable, Doan said, "It is something we enjoy. As a Canadian you expect wins and if we play our game we know we can beat anybody."
Antti Pihlstrom scored twice and Tuomo Ruutu scored once for reigning silver medallist Finland, who played without two suspended players Ollie Jokinen and Anssi Salmela.
"If you want to beat a team like Canada you have to play a perfect game," Finnish forward Teemu Selanne said.
"The better team won for sure, we had no business there. But this game will be easy to forget. We learned something and from this we move on."
Against Switzerland, Maxim Shushinskiy scored twice while Alex Ovechkin, Dimitri Kalinin and Sergie Fedorov scored singles for Russia, who are trying to win their first gold medal since 1993.
Raffaele Sannitz, Julien Vauclair, and Romano Lemm answered for the Swiss, who fell behind 4-0 then tried to rally late.
"We thought it was going to be easy but they really stepped up," Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk said of the third period charge by the Swiss.
Brandon Dubinsky scored a hat trick and Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists as the United States rolled over Norway 9-1 on Monday.
Dustin Brown, with two goals, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise and Paul Martin also scored for the United States.
Mats Trygg scored the lone goal for Norway, which needed Germany to beat Latvia 5-3 in the late game on Monday for them to stay in the tournament and advance to the next round.
Robert Esche made 17 saves for the US less than 24 hours after making 42 in a 3-2 loss to the Finns.
Esche has taken over the Americans’ top netminder position after goaltending became a concern when Tim Thomas suffered an injury and left the tournament.
Their third goalie Craig Anderson has not played since allowing five goals on nine shots to Germany.
Kane set up the prettiest goal of the game in the third period. Starting in his own end Kane weaved his way through a series of Norwegian defenders before finishing it off with a spinning backhand pass to Kessel who had an open net to shoot at.