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Canada Sent Packing By Russians

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Canada was left bloodied, bruised and beaten during its second straight quarter-final exit at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Alexei Kaigorodov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored 3:12 apart in the third period as Russia sent Canada packing with a comeback 2-1 victory on Thursday.

It was the most entertaining game of the tournament but the only one Canada lost. The team went toe-to-toe with the Russians in a spirited affair that turned on a couple loose defensive plays.

Kaigorodov tied it 1-1 at 9:07 on a short-handed breakaway. He chipped the puck past pinching defenceman Brent Burns and around Jason Spezza before beating Jonathan Bernier.

Kovalchuk then picked an opportune time for his first goal of the tournament by parking himself in the high slot and firing an Alexander Radulov pass through Bernier's legs at 12:19.

Spezza had the lone goal for Canada, which was also eliminated in the quarter-finals by Russia a year ago.

The Russians will face Finland in Friday's semifinal.

The tempo of Thursday's game was much higher than anything Canada had seen during its six round-robin wins but its players raised their play to match it. The forecheckers had plenty of success pressuring the Russian defence in the first and Canada carried the play.

Bernier still had to be sharp, denying Vladimir Tarasenko early before getting help from Burns, who broke up a 2-on-1 with Kovalchuk and Radulov.

Canada's best chance came off the stick of leading scorer John Tavares, who rang a shot off the crossbar from the slot -- an ominous sign of things to come.

The Russians came out strong in the second but Spezza opened the scoring at 5:32. Alex Pietrangelo found him well up the ice and the centre continued his strong play at this event by beating Konstantin Barulin through the legs for his fourth goal.

Both teams really started digging in and went toe-to-toe with one another. Yevgeni Artyukhin ran Andrew Ladd from behind before Marc Methot was cut when a shot rode up his stick and split open his nose. Kovalchuk was also cut during a scrum in front of his goal.

The game was still in Canada's hands with a 1-0 lead heading into the final period, but it was unable to hold off a spirited comeback.

Canada's last victory over Russia at this tournament was in 2005 ... Russian star Alex Ovechkin has been held pointless in three games.
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