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Knockout stage begins at World Championships

by Adam Schwartz

Team Canada's Dany Heatley is the current scoring leader at the World Championships with 13 points.
The quarterfinals matchups are set and the teams are ready to go at the 2008 World Championship in Quebec City and Halifax after Tuesday's off day. In fact, all four quarterfinal contests will be played Wednesday. 

The third-seeded Swedes face off against the second-seeded Czech Republic in the first Group E quarterfinal in a rematch of the final qualification round game for each of those teams.

The Swedes beat the Czechs, 5-3, in that game on the strength of two Marcus Nilsson goals. Nilsson has three goals and one assist for four points and a plus-2 rating while averaging just 12:28 of ice time per game.

The Swedes are 2-1 with New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in net and their offensive charge is powered by former New York Islander Mattias Weinhandl, who is tied for second in tournament scoring with 10 points.

At 3:30 p.m., Canada, the top seed in Group F plays fourth-seeded Norway. In Canada's first game of the qualification round they barely eked out a 2-1 victory against Norway and they will certainly not take it lightly this time around.

Canadian left wing Dany Heatley, who leads the tournament with nine goals and 13 points, will power Canada's offensive charge while playing alongside Rick Nash and Ryan Getzlaf.  

"We wanted to play well through our first six (games) and get better every night," Heatley said. "I think we've done a pretty good job of that. Now we've got do-or-die here the next couple days."

At 7:15 p.m., Russia, the top seed in Group E battles the fourth-seeded Swiss in Quebec City. Russia beat Switzerland, 5-3, on Monday in the final qualification-round game for each club. Maxim Sushinsky scored two goals in the Russian victory.

The Russians are undefeated in the tournament, but have just 13 of 15 points because two of those victories came in OT.

Finland – the No. 2 seed in Group F – plays the No. 3-seeded United States in a rematch of a qualification-round contest that saw Finland prevail 3-2 with a controversial goal scored by Finnish defenseman Ville Koistinen, which appeared to be shot through the side of the American net. The U.S. will want to extract revenge in the elimination round.  

"We were certainly disappointed," U.S. center Brandon Dubinsky said after the loss to Finland and after a win against Norway. "Not only the way the game ended, but more importantly with how we played, but we played this game with an edge. We played this game the way we need to be successful in this tournament. Right from top to bottom, we worked hard. It just shows what we can do when we do that."

Around the World Championship -- Czech defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who was ninth among NHL defensemen with 53 points this season while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, leads the team and defensemen in the tournament with one goal and nine assists for 10 points. While Kaberle is thrilled to be collecting points, he is more concerned with winning. "I'm an offensive-minded player," Kaberle said. "I have managed to get some passes to the boys in front of the net. That's what I've been doing all my life. I'm happy with the points, but they don't mean anything. We don't need to score five goals in every game, we just want to win, and I'd be happy with winning 1-0." … Finnish forward Antti Pihlstrom is tied for third in scoring on the team with three goals and two assists for five points and has a team-high plus-5 rating. … Canadian center Eric Staal, who led the Carolina Hurricanes with 82 points this season, has left Team Canada to attend his grandfather's funeral. Staal, who won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, scored four goals Saturday in Canada's 10-1 victory against Germany. He was replaced on the roster by Edmonton's Sam Gagner. … Swiss forward Paul DiPietro, who scored the game-winning goal against Canada in their famous 2-1 victory in the 2006 Winter Olympics at Torino, is tied for the team lead with five points. DiPietro, who also scored twice in the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup-clinching win in 1993, has a knack for scoring big goals and has realized how exciting the World Championship can be. "You never really know what comes up next," DiPietro said. "When I was in Montreal, we were joking about the guys going to the World Championship because they'd lost in the playoffs. And now, playing with Switzerland, I've realized how big and exciting a World Championship is. If you've never played in one, you've definitely missed something."

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