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Nine Rangers heading for Olympic medal round

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The final day of Olympic hockey round-robin competition went out with a bang on Tuesday in Torino, as eight Rangers engaged in their final tuneups for Wednesday's quarterfinals.

In the day's final game, Russia held off Team USA 5-4 to finish second in Group B and set up a quarterfinal game against Canada. Rangers defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Darius Kasparaitis both played for Russia, with Kasparaitis assisting on a first-period goal by Evgeny Malkin and a third-period tally by Alexander Ovechkin. Former Ranger Alexei Kovalev scored the game-winner for Russia at 11:52 of the third period.

Brian Rolston, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Erik Cole scored for Team USA, which finished fourth in Group B and will open medal-round play against Finland on Wednesday. The Finns, with a lineup that includes Ville Nieminen, were one of two undefeated teams in the preliminary round.

The other unbeaten, Slovakia, wrapped up its round-robin play on Tuesday by shutting out Sweden 3-0. The Rangers' Marcel Hossa will be back on the ice with his Slovakian teammates Wednesday to face the Ranger-heavy Czech Republic team, which fell 3-2 to Canada in its final Group A game.

The Czechs, whose lineup includes Jaromir Jagr, Martin Rucinsky, Martin Straka and Marek Malik came back from a 3-0 deficit against Canada on Tuesday, but could not come up with the tying score. Jagr and Rucinsky both assisted on the Czechs' first goal. Jagr, the NHL scoring leader, leads the Czech team with two goals and five points in five games. Straka also have five points, all on assists.

Wednesday's fourth quarterfinal will pit tournament Cinderella Switzerland against Sweden. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will start the game after getting a day off against Slovakia. Mikael Tellqvist of the Toronto Maple Leafs, took the loss to Slovakia on Wednesday, making 28 saves in defeat.

Sweden finished third in Group B with a 3-2 record.

In an early game on Tuesday, Nieminen and his Finnish teammates beat Germany 2-0 and became the first team to complete the preliminary round at a perfect 5-0.

Finland boasts the tournament's top three scorers in Teemu Selanne (six goals, 9 points), Saku Koivu (seven assists, 9 points) and Jere Lehtinen (8 points).

Tuesday's two opening games included a thriller between Switzerland and host Italy. The surprising Swiss, who beat both the Czech Republic and Canada in this tournament, tied the Italians 3-3 to clinch second place in Group A.

In a game that had no bearing on the quarterfinals, Kazakhstan beat Latvia 5-2 for its only win of the tournament. Kazakhstan had been the only team to go 0-4 through the first four round-robin games.
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