World Cup 2004
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With the win, Canada qualified to face off against undefeated Sweden in the semifinals which would take place in Ottawa.
The other quarterfinal matchup had Russia going up against Finland in Ottawa. The Russians smoked the Finns 5-0, off solid goaltending and goals from five different players. Andrei Trefilov stopped all 27 shots he faced and Dimitry Yushkevich, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Gonchar, Andrei Nikolishin and Andrei Kovalenko all scored for Russia.
With their win, the Russians drew their heated-rival, Team USA, in the semifinals, a contest to be played in Philadelphia.
Once again, Canada didn't have an easy go in their semifinal matchup with Sweden. The Canadians appeared to be cruising along with a 2-0 lead off goals by Eric Lindros in the first and Scott Niedermayer in the second. But the Swedes found their scoring touch in the locker room between the second and third periods and tied the score in the third. Tommy Albelin and Michael Nylander brought Sweden back from the dead and sent the game into overtime. As a matter of fact, the semifinal contest needed two overtimes to determine a winner.
Unfortunately for the Swedes, they couldn't put the final nail in Team Canada's coffin. Seconds after Johan Garpenlov hit the crossbar behind Curtis Joseph, Fleury potted the game-winner at 19:47 of the second OT, sending his team into the World Cup Finals.
In the other semifinal matchup, the United States downed Russia, 5-2, off great goaltending by Mike Richter and some timely scoring by Hull. Richter stopped 31 of the 33 shots the Russians took, while Hull netted two goals. The U.S. staged an early 2-0 lead when Pat Lafontaine beat Trevilov just 26 seconds into the contest and Hull got his third goal of the tournament with just 15 seconds left in the first.
Early in the second Sergei Berezin got his team on the board off a feed from Alexei Yashin at 9:06, cutting the U.S. lead to 2-1. But that's as close as Russia would get. Amonte scored his first goal of the tournament less than a minute later and Hull finished off the second period scoring with a short-hander. Sergei Zubov added a goal in the third for Russia, and Mathieu Schneider finished off the game's scoring when he tallied a goal at 13:57 for the United States.
Team USA's semifinal win set the stage for another international battle, this time for North American bragging rights, as the Americans were slated to face Team Canada in a best-of-three series to determine the inaugural World Cup champions.
The Finals opened up in Philadelphia and Canada downed the U.S. on American soil 4-3 in an overtime thriller. The game was close throughout, as the first period finished with Canada up 1-0 courtesy of a Lindros goal, while the second session ended 2-2.
Fleury put Canada on top again 9:58 into the third, but the never-say-die Americans tied it up with just six ticks left on the clock when John LeClair somehow beat Joseph in a goalmouth scramble. But Fleury once again rose to the occasion for his team and country. The crafty winger fed Steve Yzerman a crisp pass that sent Yzerman in alone on Richter for the goal that put his team up 1-0 in the series.
Team USA won the second game 5-2, but don't be fooled by the final outcome. This game in Montreal could have gone either way, but the U.S. managed to force a third and final game for all the marbles. At one point in Game 2, the Americans were up 3-1, and with the way Richter was playing between the pipes, the lead seemed safe -- until the Canadians came along and hit the post two times in the third! Then with just over five minutes to play in regulation, Sakic cut the lead to 3-2 when he scored on the power play.
But a win wasn't in the cards for Canada in Game 2, as the Americans added two empty-net goals to their total and forced the tournament-deciding third game.
Team Canada will forever remember Game 3 of the World Cup as "the title that got away." American hockey fans will forever remember Amonte, who scored the game-winning goal with 2:35 left in regulation.
Amonte's title-sealer came only 43 seconds after the U.S. tied the score off Hull's seventh goal of the competition.
The Americans added two more goals to their total (one an empty-netter) and skated back to the United States with their first world hockey title since the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
For his stellar efforts Mike Richter was named the MVP of the inaugural World Cup tournament. The Rangers' netminder made 35 saves, including 23 in the second period, in the series clincher against Canada.