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Kovy, Russia through to World semis

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils
Russia eliminated Canada, 5-2, and host Germany blanked Switzerland, 1-0, to advance to the semifinals Thursday of the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship tournament in Germany.

At Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Evgeni Malkin scored twice and team captain Ilya Kovalchuk had three assists as Russia took revenge for a 7-3 loss to Canada at the Olympics in February.

Russia now has won 26 consecutive games at the World Championships, a run that began in the 2007 bronze-medal game. Kovalchuk, the Russian captain, is tied for the tournament lead with 10 points – two goals, eight assists – in seven games.

Canada, with one player in the lineup from their gold-medal winning team at the Vancouver Olympics -- Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry -- failed to reach the semifinals for the first since 2002.

Maxim Afinogenov of the Atlanta Thrashers opened the scoring with 52 seconds remaining in the first period, beating St. Louis Blues goalie Chris Mason (25 saves). Rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov of the Florida Panthers earned the primary assist.

Russia, the two-time reigning gold-medal winner, padded the lead to 3-0 with two power-play goals in the second period. Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings scored on a 5-on-3 at 1:45 with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos sent off for boarding (at 20:00 of the first period) and Perry in the penalty box for slashing. Perry was called for slashing again, going after Alex Ovechkin, at 16:31, and this time Malkin capitalized by scoring exactly one minute after the infraction.

Former NHL MVP Sergei Fedorov extended Russia's lead to 4-0 with a goal at 7:31 of the third.

New York Islanders rookie John Tavares scored his tournament-leading seventh goal at 13:52 against goalie Semyon Varlamov (25 saves) to avoid the shutout for Canada.

In the final three minutes of the game, Malkin scored into an empty net to make it 5-1, and Colorado Avalanche rookie Matt Duchene scored his fourth of the tournament to end the scoring.

Russia outshot Canada, 30-27.

At SAP Arena in Mannheim, Buffalo Sabres prospect Philip Gogulla scored the only goal, his first of the tournament, at 10:46 of the second period.

Germany goaltender Dennis Endras stopped all 22 shots to lift the host nation to the final four for the first time since the current playoff format was introduced in 1992. Former NHL goalie Martin Gerber made 19 saves for Switzerland.

Earlier Thursday, Sweden beat Denmark, 4-2, while the Czech Republic topped Finland, 2-1 in a shootout.

Jan Marek, a former Rangers draft pick who now plays in Russia, scored the game-deciding shootout goal to give the Czech Republic a come-from-behind win. The victory wasn't clinched until Petri Kontiola missed with a high shot on Finland's third and final attempt.

Kontiola, who played briefly for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007-08, staked Finland to a 1-0 lead only 55 seconds into the first period, but the Czech Republic tied the score at 1:12 of the third, when former Washington Capitals forward Jakub Klepis beat Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.

In the other quarterfinal game, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson made 27 saves to lead Sweden past Denmark, the tournament's surprise team.

Saturday's semifinals will see Russia face Germany, and Sweden plays the Czech Republic. The winners will meet for the gold medal Sunday.
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