Canada wins record 24th hockey world championship
MOSCOW -- Canada used a different formula to achieve familiar results at the world hockey championships.
Relying on youngsters and journeymen instead of stars, the Canadians defeated Finland 4-2 Sunday to win their third world title in five years and their 24th overall.
"There were a lot of superstars in some of Canada's teams before, but I think this was just a great young team coming together, a great bunch of guys in the dressing room," said Rick Nash, who scored twice in the final. "That was key. It was amazing how every game we got better."
Earlier, Russia won the bronze medal by beating Sweden 3-1.
Canada has won 24 senior and 13 junior world titles, as well as seven Olympic golds and five Canada Cup and World Cup titles. Its previous world title was in 2004.
"I always feel our emotional well as hockey players runs deeper than any other country," said coach Andy Murray, who also led Canada to victory in 1997 and 2003. "When Rick Nash was carrying that puck, he was carrying the emotions of 31 million Canadians."
Finland won its only in 1995, beating Sweden. Last year, Sweden won both the Olympic and world titles -- the first country to do so.
Canada looked shaky early in the tournament. It scraped past Germany 3-2 in the preliminary round before stumbling to a 4-2 win over Norway.
"It was a journey. We started in Finland in an exhibition game. We kind of looked at our team and didn't know what to expect," Nash said. "We struggled against Germany and first period against Norway.
"We really owe it to Andy and the assistant coaches. They really took this team and put us all together. We jelled. Each game we got better. It's pretty unbelievable we got a gold medal."
Canada took a 2-0 lead in the opening period on a pair of power-play goals. Nash, a left wing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, flicked the puck waist-high past Finland goalie Kari Lehtonen at 6:30, and Eric Staal batted in a bouncing pass from Mike Cammalleri seven minutes later.
Finland rallied in the final period. Petri Kontiola knocked in a pass from Ville Peltonen behind the net at 11:08. Antti Miettinen brought the Finns back within one during a goal-mouth scramble with less than three minutes remaining.
"Everyone was panicking and Andy kept us calm," Nash said. "He said 'Boys, calm down. We've only got two minutes left to win this.'"
Nash picked up the puck before scoring from close range with about a minute to go despite being gripped around the waist and taken down by defenseman Pekka Saravo.
"It feels pretty bad right now," Saravo said. "We knew that we couldn't take too many penalties and today there were too maybe penalties so they scored two power-play goals. And after that it's tough to come back."
In the bronze-medal game, Alexei Emelin, Sergei Zinoviev and Alexander Frolov scored for Russia, which has not won the world title since 1993. The Russians also won the bronze in 2005.
"The win today was very important," Russia defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "We were playing in front of our home crowd. People were supporting us, cheering for us even after our loss to Finland last night, saying things like 'Good job.' Before the game we all agreed we can't lose this last match."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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