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Danes clinch spot in next year's tournament

5/10/2005

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.

Brendan Morrison gave Canada a 1-0 lead 6:43 in, backhanding a
loose puck into the net. Andrei Sryubko tied it four minutes later,
shooting the puck between Martin Brodeur's pads.

"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."

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, playing his seventh straight
worlds and a member of the team that won back-to-back titles in
2003 and '04, agreed that Canada must improve.

"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."