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Canada, USA, Finland, Sweden Advance to Final Four

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Canada, USA, Finland and Sweden are the final four teams in the Men’s Olympic Hockey tournament in Sochi, Russia. All four teams advanced to Friday’s semifinals with wins on Wednesday.

Canada 2, Latvia 1

Shea Weber’s power play goal with 6:54 remaining in the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted Canada to a 2-1 victory over Latvia in the quarterfinals. Canada will face the United States in the semifinals on Friday.

"Obviously, we play against them in North America, so we’re familiar with those guys," Weber told of the matchup with Team USA. "It’s going to be a great game. They’ve played a great Olympic tournament so far, and it’s going to be exciting."

Canada had a 57-16 shots advantage in Wednesday’s game, but Latvia stayed in it thanks to some stellar goaltending by Kristers Gudlevskis, who stopped 55 shots.

"Their goaltender played awesome," Canadian goaltender Carey Price said. "That was one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen in a long time. He played a heck of a game."

The Canadians took a 1-0 lead at 13:37 of the first on a goal by forward Patrick Sharp. But the Latvians answered a little more than two minutes later when Lauris Darzins scored on a breakaway.

Gudlevskis kept the Latvians in the game until Weber scored off a blast with Canada on its third power play of the contest.

Stars captain Jamie Benn had no points, four shots on goal, won three of four faceoffs and was a minus-one in the game while playing on a line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. He logged 13:39 of ice time.

USA 5, Czech Republic 3

Team USA made it to the final four with a solid 5-2 victory over Czech Republic. Five different players – James van Riemsdyk, Dustin Brown, David Backes, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel – scored goals and Ryan Suter dished out three assists for the Americans. Jonathan Quick stopped 21 of 23 shots. The USA will meet Canada in the semifinals on Friday.

“We knew we were going to have some big games prior to this point in time, but you were looking forward to the possibility of this rematch and now we have it in the semifinals,” said USA coach Dan Bylsma. “I know our group and our guys are ready for it and looking forward to it. We certainly had to win some hockey games and do well before this point, but now we have the rematch with the Canadians.”

Finland 3, Russia 1

Finland knocked Russia out of the Olympic tournament Wednesday, defeating the host team, 3-1, at the Bolshoi Ice Dome.

Tuukka Rask stopped 37 of 38 shots and Mikael Granlund and Teemu Selanne had one goal and one assist each. Juhamatti Aaltonen also scored for the Finns, who will meet Sweden in the semifinals.

“It’s pretty high (on the list of international wins),” Selanne, the Finnish captain, told NBC. “Obviously beating Russia in their home tournament, at the Olympics where all the best players are, it’s huge. Four of our best centers are out, so we don’t have the depth some of the other teams have. We have to be very proud of it.”

Russia took the early lead on an Ilya Kovalchuk power play goal 7:51 into the game, but Aaltonen answered less than two minutes later and Selanne gave Finland the lead for good late in the first period. Granlund extended the lead to 3-1 with a power play goal early in the second period.

Semyon Varlamov got the start in goal for Russia, but was pulled shortly after Granlund scored. He allowed three goals on 15 shots. Sergei Bobrovsky played the rest of the game and stopped all seven shots he faced, but his teammates couldn’t overcome the 3-1 deficit.

"It sucks. What more can I say?” Russian forward Alexander Ovechkin told "We had a good start, scored a power play goal, and felt pretty good. But we made two mistakes. That's the game. We tried to tie but we couldn't score. Nothing. No emotion right now."

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen was the backup to Rask for Finland.

Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin saw limited playing time for the Russians. He played 3:46, had no shots and was a minus-two. Nichushkin, who did not play in the third period as the Russians shortened their bench in an attempt to rally, played on a line with Alexei Tereshenko and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Sweden 5, Slovenia 0

Sweden advanced to the semifinals with a 5-0 win over Slovenia on Wednesday. Alexander Steen’s power play goal with 1:10 left in the first period held up as the game-winner for the Sweden, who got a 19-save shutout from Henrik Lundqvist. Carl Hagelin scored two goals, Loui Eriksson had one goal and one assist and Daniel Sedin also tallied. Sweden will meet Finland in Friday’s semis.


*Through four games, Stars captain Jamie Benn has one goal, 11 shots, an even rating, four penalty minutes and he is averaging 12:35 of ice time per game.

*Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin ended the tournament with one goal in five games played. He had four shots and a minus-two rating while averaging 7:03 of ice time per game.

*Canada announced that forward John Tavares suffered a leg injury in Wednesday’s game against Latvia and will miss the rest of the Olympics.

*Russia finished fifth in the tournament, followed by (6) Czech Republic, (7) Slovenia, (8) Latvia, (9) Switzerland, (10) Austria, (11) Slovakia, (12) Norway.

Wednesday’s quarterfinals

Sweden 5, Slovenia 0
Finland 3, Russia 1
USA 5 Czech Republic 2
Canada 2, Latvia 1

Friday’s semifinals

Sweden vs. Finland, 6:00 a.m., NBC Sports Network
Canada vs. United States, 11:00 a.m., NBC Sports Network

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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