LEKSAND, Sweden (CP) - Columbus Blue Jackets' prospect Kris Russell scored two goals to lead Canada to a 3-0 win over Slovakia at the world junior hockey championship Sunday.
Russell's four goals in the world junior tournament are the most by a Canadian defenceman in one tournament.
Steve Downie of the Peterborough Petes had a goal and an assist for Canada in front of an announced crowd of 1,434 at the 7,650-seat Ejendals Arena.
Carey Price of the Tri-City Americans picked up his second shutout of the tournament by stopping 32 shots.
Canada (4-0) had clinched first place in Pool A with a win over Germany on Friday.
Both countries earned byes to Wednesday's semifinals.
"Going into the semifinals, this is what we really wanted, to make sure we had no regrets in this game and really go in knowing we're a great team," said Russell.
Canada's opponent in Wednesday's semifinal will be the winner of the quarter-final between Finland and the U.S. on Tuesday.
Russia also went 4-0 to top Pool B and awaits the quarter-final winner between Sweden and the Czech Republic.
The Americans needed their 3-2 overtime over Sweden on Sunday, lest they drop into the relegation round. Russia hammered Finland 5-0 to secure the bye and the Czech Republic squeaked into the medal round with a 3-2 win over Switzerland.
The Canada-Slovakia game meant nothing to either team in the standings as Slovakia was already headed to the relegation round.
Once Canada took a 2-0 lead in the first period, the penalty parade began as the Slovaks tried to frustrate the Canadians and get them off their game.
It worked occasionally as Slovakia had two-man advantages four times during the game, but they couldn't convert thanks to Price. Canada scored two power-play goals on 14 chances.
Ten Canadians have Slovaks as teammates on their club teams in the Canadian Hockey League so there was a lot of chatter back and forth.
Plymouth Whalers forward James Neal did not dress because of a sore groin, which meant a regular shift for Kenndal McArdle of the Vancouver Giants.
Canada spent the last five minutes 39 seconds of the second period short-handed due to a raft of minor penalties and Slovakia opened the period with a two-man advantage.
Price made two smart pad saves during the latter and then got the shaft of his stick caught in the goal netting. He squared up without his stick to a Slovak who shot wide and nonchalantly retrieved his stick.
Downie scored Canada's third goal by corralling a loose puck to Slovak goaltender Branislav Konrad's right and putting it over his stick for a power-play goal at 13:05.
Russell almost had a hat trick by the halfway mark of the first period as he put a shot off the crossbar following his power-play goal at 8:52. The Columbus Blue Jackets' prospect put a low shot past Konrad's glove.
His first goal started with a nice move by Downie at the boards, where he shook off a check to send the puck back to Karl Alzner. Russell took the pass from Alzner in the high slot, stepped in and wired the puck past Konrad's glove.
"The puck was finding its way in and it's nice to get that, but the guys did a great job of screening in front so the goalie didn't have as much of a chance," said Russell.
Canadian head coach Craig Hartsburg continued to juggle his forward lines. The trio of centre Andrew Cogliano and wingers Downie and Brad Marchand has stayed intact since selection camp, but Jonathan Toews and Ryan O'Marra had their third different left-winger as Tom Pyatt was moved up from third-line centre.
Bryan Little shifted into the middle between Sam Gagner and McArdle for Sunday's game.
CP Player of the Game - Kris Russell. Columbus Blue Jackets prospective defenceman was a big producer for Canada for a second straight game and nearly had a natural hat trick.
Notes: Russell's fourth goal moved him ahead of Canadian defencemen who had three, including Bryan McCabe, Wade Redden, Jamie Rivers (1995), Gary Leeman (1984) and Fred Boimistruck (1981) . . . Carlo Colaiacovo of the Toronto Maple Leafs holds the record for most point by a Canadian defenceman in the tournament at 10 (one goal, nine assists).