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Worlds: Team Canada Advances to Finals

by Staff Writer / St. Louis Blues
MOSCOW – Canada is going for gold at the World Hockey Championships for the fourth time in five years.

Canada got goals from four players in a 4-1 semifinal win over Sweden on Saturday and will play Finland on Sunday in the championship game of the 16-team tournament.

It will be the fourth time in five years Canada will appear in the gold medal game. Canada won consecutive world titles in 2003 and 2004 and finished second in 2005 and missed the podium last year.

"It is unbelievable," said defenceman Barret Jackman about being one victory away from the goal set by the Canadians when headed overseas in in late April. "Anytime you can play for your country is great and to play for a world title is even better.

"Everyone has bought into the system Andy (Murray, the head coach) wants us to play and we know we have more to give."

The Finns advanced with a 2-1 overtime win over Russia on a goal by Mikko Koivu, who is the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens star Saku Koivu.

"The Finns will be tough. They play a hard-nosed game like we do and their style is a lot like ours. It will be a tough game," said Jackman.

The Canadians jumped to a 3-0 first period lead and took a 4-1 to the dressing room for the second intermission.

It was a second-period goal by Rick Nash that snuffed out any hope of a Swedish rally.

After being dominated in the first period, the Swedes rallied in the second and carried the play. They made it 3-1 at 6:13 and kept the pressure on the Canadians, looking to narrow the gap.

Nash dimmed their chances of a rally when he finished off a 2-on-1 with a wrist shot for a power play goal at 15:17.

"We had a great first period and sat back a little and they came on," said Jackman. "But you can't give a guy like Nash a chance like that. That was a big goal for us."

The Canadians took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period on goals my Mike Cammalleri, at 11:05, and Jonathan Toews, at 12:23.

Eric Staal made it 3-0 at 18:38 when he took a tape-to-tape pass by Cammalleri and scored. Staal held off a defender and then went forehand to backhand to forehand with the puck on the blade of his stick before snapping a short wrist shot for a goal.

Goalie Cam Ward was brilliant when the Swedes had a four-minute power play in the third period and he made a handful of saves to frustrate his opponents.

"Both Cam and Rollie (Dwayne Roloson) have been great. Look at the way they played last year (in the Stanley Cup final for Carolina and Edmonton respectively). They are world-class goalies."

Canada takes an eight-game winning streak into the gold medal game and the last time the Canadians were 8-0 going into the championship game was 1994 when they beat Finland in a shootout.

"We were excited after the game but we've started to focus for Finland," said Jackman. "We know the job isn't done. Eight out of nine isn't good enough. It takes nine wins to win the world title. Eight out of nine isn't satisfactory."

Meanwhile, The so-called "home ice curse" lives on. The Russians were hoping to become the first national team to win the world tournament on home ice since 1986. The Russians will now play Sweden, the defending champions, for the bronze medal.

The 2008 world tournament will be held in Halifax and Quebec City, marking the first time the event will be staged in Canada.
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