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Canada finishes atop Group F; Russians top Group E

by Adam Schwartz

Shane Doan scored a short-handed goal in Team Canada's 6-3 win over Finland Monday to seal Canada's place atop Group F.
A 6-3 Canadian victory against Finland Monday at the 2008 World Championship in Halifax sealed Canada's place atop Group F.

The Canadians pulled away from the Finns in the second period when they extended their 2-1 lead with goals from Dany Heatley and Patrick Sharp.

Heatley, who was one of just eight players in the NHL with at least 40 goals and 40 assists this season, leads the tournament with nine goals and 13 points.

Canada got two shorthanded goals -- one from Shane Doan in the first period and Sharp's goal in the second. Finnish left wing Teemu Selanne -- who has played 1,067 regular season NHL games with the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks -- thought that allowing the shorthanded goals was the Finns undoing against a formidable opponent.

"If you want to beat a team like Canada you have to play a perfect game," Selanne said. "We clearly didn't do that. You're not going to beat a team like that by giving up two shorthanded goals."

In addition to Ryan Getzlaf's first-period goal, Doan and Heatley added their second goals of the game in the third period and the Finns got a pair of goals from Antti Pihlstrom and Carolina Hurricanes center Tuomo Ruutu.

The Canadians prepared well for this group-deciding game and knew that the Finns would give them a tougher time than the Germans, whom Canada decimated 10-1 on Saturday.

"I think this was a tough test for us," Sharp said. "They play a similar game that some National Hockey League teams do. We wanted to get this win today for the No. 1 seed, so we treated it as a do-or-die game."

The quarterfinals will begin Wednesday and with Canada's win, it will play Norway, which finished in fourth place in Group E with one win, one OT loss and three regulation losses. The second-place Finns, meanwhile, will play a high-powered Team USA, who is the No. 3 seed in Group F. That will be a rematch of their controversial meeting Sunday, which the Finns won, 3-2, with the help of a controversial goal.

The Canadians recognized their need to win the group and the importance of this game despite the fact they already clinched a quarterfinal berth. Canada is thrilled to have avoided playing the Americans in the quarterfinals.

"We know the Americans are a tough team," Doan said. "We didn't want to play them again. We knew Finland wanted to beat us, so it was important to end with a big win."

Around the World Championship -- An injury to starting goalie Tim Thomas in the United States' 5-4 loss to Canada in their third game of the tournament, coupled with Craig Anderson's poor play, has found former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Robert Esche in the starting role for Team USA. Esche, who plays for AK Bars Kazan in Russia, led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004. He is surprised to have the opportunity he now does.  "(Team USA GM Don Waddell) said we'd all be given a chance in camp," Esche said. "But when the tournament started it looked like it would be Tim, then Anderson, then me. It's funny how things work out." …The Americans easily took care of Norway on Monday with a 9-1 victory. The U.S. was led by Brandon Dubinsky's hat trick. Dubinsky, who was seventh among NHL rookies with 40 points this season while playing alongside Jaromir Jagr for the New York Rangers, played just 15:07 in the game against Norway after being added as a late addition to the roster. …  The Russians predictably took care of the Swiss, 5-3, on Monday, but had already secured their spot atop Group F. The Russians got two goals from Maxim Sushinskiy, who has four points in six games. Russia will play Switzerland on Wednesday in Quebec City in the quarterfinals.  … Czech Republic right wing Martin Erat, who signed a seven-year $31.5 million contract Monday with the Nashville Predators, is one of six Czech players with at least six points. Erat leads the team with 10 penalty minutes, but also has a minus-3 rating. The Czechs, who are second in Group E, will play the third-seeded Swedes on Wednesday in a clash of hockey superpowers. Both clubs last faced each other Sunday in their last game of the qualification round and the Swedes emerged with a 5-3 victory on the strength of two goals from Edmonton Oilers center Robert Nilsson.

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