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U.S. to face Russia in semis

5/6/2009 - NHL

BERN, Switzerland -- The United States scored three goals in a four-minute span to beat Finland 3-2 Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the hockey world championships.

Dustin Brown, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Suter scored midway through the second period and Robert Esche made 47 saves.

The U.S. will play Russia in a semifinal on Friday.

Russia beat Belarus 4-3 earlier Wednesday. The defending champions also beat the United States 4-1 earlier in the tournament.

The U.S., which lost to Finland in the quarterfinals last year, overcame hostile Swiss fans in a crowd of 9,334 at the PostFinance Arena. The jeers were directed mainly at forward David Backes, whose challenge near the boards sent a Swiss player to the hospital in a match that eliminated the host team on Monday.

Finland dominated the first period but couldn't get past Esche despite having 20 shots and three power plays. Niko Kapanen forced a double save from Esche, and Mikko Lehtonen then struck the crossbar on the Finland's first power-play chance.

Finland began the second period with time left on a power-play and made it count.

Kapanen lurked at the right side of the goal to scoop in a loose puck at 57 seconds, for his seventh goal of the tournament.

But the Americans capitalized on a two-man advantage shortly after, with Brown beating Pekka Rinne on Suter's pass to the back of the crease.

That shifted the momentum in the Americans favor, and they quickly scored twice more on even-strength breakaways.

Oshie scored on a pass from his St. Louis Blues teammate Backes, and Suter then sent a shot from the right side into an unguarded goal at 14:19.

Finland called timeout and made it 3-2 when Hannes Hyvonen reacted first to a rebound off Esche's mask 3 minutes later.

The Americans came closest to scoring in the third, with Chris Higgins drawing a sharp stick save from Rinne on a power play.

Russia trailed twice in the second period but forward Ilya Kovalchuk scored the winner at 7:22 of the third for his team-leading 12th point of the tournament. Kovalchuk picked up the puck and cut into the Belarus zone before sending a wrist shot through goaltender Andrei Mezin's pads.

Russia was held scoreless in the first period for the first time in the tournament, by a defensive-minded Belarus team that led 1-0 and 2-1 in the second period.

Russia struck back with two goals inside 23 seconds for its first lead. Defenseman Vitali Atyushov shot high to Mezin's right stick side, and Alexander Frolov slotted a rebound through the goalie's pads at 17:02.

Belarus tied it at 3-3 in the final minute of the period Ruslan Salei's goal with a two-man advantage.

In Thursday's quarterfinals, Canada plays Latvia and Sweden faces the Czech Republic.