Russia tops Canada, defends world title

Updated: May 10, 2009, 7:50 PM ET
Associated Press

BERN, Switzerland -- Russia defended its gold medal at the hockey world championship Sunday, beating Canada 2-1 in a rematch of last year's final.

Oleg Saprykin had a tying, power-play goal in the first period and Alex Radulov scored late in the second for Russia. The Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza gave Canada the early lead.

Sweden won the bronze medal, beating the United States 4-2 earlier Sunday.

Russia, which went unbeaten through the tournament despite trailing in six of its nine games, holds a 25-24 edge over Canada in total world titles. Russia had gone 15 years without a world championship victory before winning in 2008.

Canada dominated in shots, forcing Ilya Bryzgalov to make 37 saves. Dwayne Roloson made 15 stops for Canada.

"We've got silver and they have a gold. Sometimes hockey is a cruel sport," Canada coach Lindy Ruff said. "Bryzgalov was very good and didn't make the mistake that was going to allow us back into the game."

On his first shift after returning from an interference penalty, Canada captain Shane Doan assisted on the opening goal when he backhanded a pass across the crease to Spezza, who scooped the puck into the net at 5:37. It was Spezza's seventh, equaling the tournament best.

Saprykin scored 13 seconds into a delay of game penalty on defenseman Braydon Coburn.

Saprykin got in front of Roloson and diverted Vitali Atyushov's slap shot into the net low to the goalie's left at 12:59.

In the second period, Canada was outshooting Russia 2-1 and keeping Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk in check, yet Russia took the lead at 14:30 on a breakaway set up by Saprykin's pass back through his legs along the left boards.

Kovalchuk logged more than 30 minutes of ice time and was kept in check by Nashville Predators defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Shea Weber.

Konstantin Gorovikov fed Radulov and the youngest player on the Russian roster cut in through the right circle and fired left-handed past Roloson.

In the third, Steven Stamkos wristed a shot just over the net, and Dany Heatley's drive from between the circles struck the crossbar.

Russia protected its lead and was helped with seven minutes left when Mike Fisher was called for tripping.

Canada's best late chance came when Doan had a breakaway, off a pass from Spezza with under two minutes to go, but he slipped crossing the blue line.

"That one will still stick with me for a very long time," Doan said.

Kovalchuk, the tournament MVP, was joined in a leaping embrace by Radulov, who escaped suspension from the tournament after breaking his contract with the Predators last summer to return home.

His walkout sparked an ongoing transfer dispute between the NHL and the Russian KHL league, but the IIHF governing body said it didn't have the authority to discipline him.

"It's in the past and we will see what is going to happen next year," Radulov said. "I'm happy that I'm in the national team."

In the bronze-medal game, Sweden scored all four goals on power plays, with Loui Eriksson and Tony Martensson netting in the second period and Carl Gunnarsson adding a third with 11 minutes left. Johnny Oduya scored into an empty net in the final seconds.

The Americans took the lead on Jack Johnson's power-play goal in the second, and tied the game on Joe Pavelski's tally early in the third.

"I'm very proud of this young team. They played their hearts out and probably deserved a better fate over the last two games," said U.S. coach Ron Wilson, whose team gave up a late power-play goal in a 3-2 semifinal loss against Russia.

Stefan Liv had 37 saves for the win, and Robert Esche made 24 stops.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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