Canada lets four-goal lead slip to one

Updated: May 14, 2005, 7:07 PM ET
Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria -- Canada nearly blew a four-goal lead before hanging on to beat Russia 4-3 on Saturday and reach its third straight final at the world hockey championship.

Wade Redden, Sheldon Souray, Dany Heatley and Ed Jovanovski scored for the two-time defending champions, who will play for the gold medal Sunday against the Czech Republic -- a 3-2 overtime winner over Sweden.

The matchup is a repeat of the 1996 championship game in Vienna, when the Czech Republic beat Canada to win its first of four world titles. Canada beat Sweden in the final the past two years.

"Every year is different, but this year is special," said Heatley, a key forward on Canada's last two championship teams. "It's a new team. We grew together and it's good to be there again. Our goal from day one was to have a chance to win, and now we have that chance."

Martin Brodeur gave his team the opportunity by making 39 saves.

The Czechs reached the final for the first time since 2001 when Radek Dvorak ripped a wrist shot that struck the goal cam and bounded out of the net 4:43 into overtime. A video replay confirmed that the goal was good and that the Czech Republic would return home with its first medal in four years.

Dvorak's shot past goalie Henrik Lundqvist was his first goal since the 2001 worlds.

"He [Dvorak] disappeared behind the defenseman and I saw the puck too late," Lundqvist said. "I knew it was a goal. Of course it's disappointing because we played a good game."

That came on the heels of their shootout victory over the United States in the quarterfinals, a game the Czechs trailed 2-0 in the third period.

"We didn't expect them [Sweden] to be so good," Czech Republic coach Vladimir Ruzicka said. "We were lucky on Thursday [against the United States] and we were lucky again tonight."

Daniel Sedin got Sweden into overtime by lifting a shot over goalie Tomas Vokoun at 12:03 of the third period during a power play. Twin brother Henrik, also his Vancouver Canucks teammate, set it up with a pass from behind the net.

Martin Straka scored a strange goal to give the Czechs a 2-1 lead five minutes into the third. Vaclav Prospal's shot from the point broke the stick of Swedish forward Henrik Zetterberg. The puck took a funny bounce before Straka deflected it out of the air past Lundqvist.

Jonas Hoglund gave Sweden a 1-0 lead at 11:39 of the first. Petr Cajanek tied it at 15:03 with a slap shot from the left circle.

In the earlier game, Alexander Semin, Alexei Yashin and Alexander Ovechkin scored for Russia, which lost its first game in the tournament and will play in the bronze-medal game Sunday against Sweden.

Canada took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals by Redden, Souray and Heatley.

Redden scored just 1:38 in, knocking in a rebound off his own shot past goalie Maxim Sokolov. Souray made it 2-0, finishing off a beautiful play in the Russian end with Simon Gagne and Joe Thornton.

Midway through the period, Canada scored again with Russia playing two men short. Heatley wristed a shot from a tough angle between Sokolov's pads.

The goal came after Evgeni Malkin -- an 18-year-old center who was picked second in the 2004 NHL draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins -- and Denis Denisov were sent off for slashing and elbowing penalties, giving Canada a two-man advantage for 19 seconds.

Canada spent 7:42 on the power-play in the first period after some questionable calls by Finnish referee Hannu Henriksson, booed throughout by thousands of noisy Russian fans at Stadthalle.

"In the first period, the referee gave more penalties to us, and Canada played very good on the power play," said Ovechkin, the No. 1 pick in last year's NHL draft.

Jovanovski scored just 1:40 into the second period with another power-play goal. Unchecked in front, the defenseman beat Sokolov with a shot to the stick side.

Canada, which recorded 25 shots, appeared to be in full control, but Russia scored twice late in the period.

Semin spoiled Brodeur's shutout bid at 14:22, wristing the puck to the top corner from the left circle after a faceoff. Yashin scored a lucky goal with 42 seconds left in the period, hitting a shot that bounced off Canada defenseman Chris Phillips' skate and past the helpless Brodeur.

Ovechkin gave Russia more hope when he scored from close range to cut the score to 4-3 at 6:27 in the third period, his team-leading fourth goal in the tournament.

But Canada hung on to win after surviving some tense moments in the final minute when Russia pulled its goalie for an extra attacker and came close to getting the tying goal.

"It got a little bit more interesting than it should have," forward Kris Draper said. "But we did what we had to do. We played an unbelievable first half of the game, and just enough to hang on for the win."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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