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With stakes high, Canada faces Russia in World Cup semis

TORONTO — Ryan Getzlaf doesn't remember a single thing from Canada's last matchup with Russia in a tournament featuring the best players in the world.

"I couldn't even tell you what the score was or when we played them or what happened," Getzlaf said.

Canada coach Mike Babcock, however, remembers the nerves of his players that day. Canada was anxious at that point of the 2010 Olympics in a quarterfinal matchup with the Russians. The group was four years removed from a seventh-place disappointment at the 2006 Games, trying to reclaim gold on home soil in Vancouver.

Any tension quickly evaporated. Canada pumped six goals past Evgeni Nabakov in the first 24 minutes and won 7-3. Getzlaf had three points in just over 10 minutes.

Canada is now a powerhouse as it prepares to host Russia in today's semifinal at the World Cup of Hockey, winners of 13 straight best-on-best games dating to 2010. The Canadians rolled through the preliminary round in Toronto, outscoring their Czech, American and European foes 14-3, trailing for just 89 seconds.

Russia poses the biggest threat yet. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko front a dangerous top line, with Evgeni Malkin, the Lightning's Nikita Kucherov and Blackhawks Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin there, too.

"For us, there can't be any casual moments with how dangerous some of these players are," Canada and Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "You give them opportunity, they're going to create and they're going to bury them and make us pay."

Canada outlasted Russia in a pre-tournament game with a 3-2 overtime win. Though players on both sides didn't think that offered much insight into today's matchup, the formula was there for how Canada could fall: Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 45 of 48 shots to give Russia a chance.

Esposito, Yzerman on postage stamps: Lightning founder Phil Esposito and general manager Steve Yzerman are among six Canadian hockey greats who are being immortalized on Canada Post stamps. Canada Post unveiled the fourth issue in its five-year NHL stamp series at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Besides Hall of Fame players Esposito and Yzerman, this issue includes Hall of Famers Guy Lafleur, Darryl Sittler and Mark Messier, and the Penguins' Sidney Crosby.

World Cup semifinals

Tonight: Canada vs. Russia, 7, ESPN2

Sunday: Sweden vs. Europe, 1, ESPN

With stakes high, Canada faces Russia in World Cup semis 09/23/16 [Last modified: Friday, September 23, 2016 9:52pm]
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