Danes clinch spot in next year's tournament
INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Rick Nash scored his tournament-leading ninth goal in the third period Tuesday, giving Canada a 2-1 victory over last-place Ukraine at the world hockey championship.
Canada, the two-time defending champions, will stay in Innsbruck and play Slovakia on Thursday in the quarterfinals. The United States will face the Czech Republic at the same time in Vienna. Unbeaten Russia will play Finland, and Sweden will oppose Switzerland in the other quarterfinal matchups.
Sweden, the runners-up the past two years, routed Latvia 9-1 Tuesday to win Group F. Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had a goal and three assists.
Canada finished Group F in second place, one point behind Sweden and one ahead of the United States. The Americans clinched their quarterfinal berth Monday when they tied Ukraine 1-1.
Slovakia, which already qualified for the quarterfinals, beat Kazakhstan 3-1 in a Group E game in Vienna.
Nash, the 20-year-old star of the Columbus Blue Jackets, scored the winning goal at 9:54 of the third period by firing in a rising wrist shot from a tough angle while Canada was on a power play.
"It was fairly lucky," Nash said. "The puck rolled a bit and that helped it go top corner. But in those type of games you take them any way you can get them."
Joe Thornton, tied with Nash for the tournament scoring lead with 11 points, got an assist.
"The Swedes had a tough time against them, the United States tied them," Nash said of Ukraine. "We were lucky to come out with two points.
"We definitely have to improve our game. I feel we will step up once we get the good teams. Playing games like today is tough for us."
"It sure wasn't our finest," Smyth said. "We have to play with a little more intensity for 60 minutes. These things happen, but a win is a win."
The Czech Republic beat Belarus 5-1 Tuesday to finish in a tie with Russia atop Group E, but the Czechs lost the tiebreaker because they dropped the head-to-head matchup with the Russians.
Miroslav Satan put Slovakia ahead on the power play at 5:58, but Andrey Ogorodnikov made it 1-1 just four minutes later with a power-play goal.
Early in the second period, Satan assisted on Ziggy Palffy's fourth goal of the tournament to give Slovakia the lead again. Michael Handzus scored the only even-strength goal of the game, off a pass from Richard Zednik, 2:54 into the third period to make it 3-1.
"It was tougher than we had hoped for, but we were also pretty tired," Slovak coach Frantisek Hossa said.
Russia and the Czech Republic get to stay in Vienna for the quarterfinals, while Slovakia and Switzerland will travel nearly 400 miles west to Innsbruck. The United States and Finland are forced to make the trip the other way to Vienna.
In other games Tuesday, Kasper Degn scored midway through the third period to give Denmark a 3-2 victory over Germany and avoid relegation.
"We were confident we could beat them," defenseman Morten Dahlmann said. "Our goal was to stay in the championship and we did."
Denmark has four points atop the relegation-round standings. Germany was next with three, followed by Slovenia with two and Austria with one. Austria is scheduled to meet Slovenia on Wednesday in the last relegation-round game.
The two top teams will stay in the championship next year, while the last two will be are demoted.
"This win means a lot for Danish hockey," coach Mikael Lundstrom said. "Our young players will get the chance to develop further at the highest level."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press