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Russia knocks out Canada 2-0

Published Feb. 23, 2006

A classic rivalry made for the best hockey game in the Games so far, and once again, Canada couldn't beat Russia when it counted.

Alexander Ovechkin, an NHL player for only a few months, scored the pivotal first goal 90 seconds into the third and Russia rode goaltender Evgeni Nabokov's superb game to a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over gold medal favorite Canada on Wednesday.

Alex Kovalev sealed the tensely played game by scoring with 23 seconds left with Russia on a power play, after Nabokov stood up to the increasingly frantic Canadians by making big save after big save over the final five minutes. He stopped all 27 shots he faced.

Russia meets Finland in the semifinals Friday.

The breakthrough goal for Russia came after Chris Pronger couldn't clear the puck from behind the net. Viktor Kozlov gathered it behind the goal line and fed it in front to Ovechkin, who wristed it past Martin Brodeur for his fifth goal in six games.

The way the San Jose Sharks goalie was playing, that was all the Russians needed to beat Canada for the eighth time in their nine Olympics matchups. The Canadians pressed and pressed for the tying goal, but could never get it.

"We didn't get the puck in the net," defenseman Rob Blake said. "That's the bottom line. Three out of four games, it's tough."

Asked what his countrymen back home were thinking, Ovechkin said, "Everybody in my country is jumping, I think, and everybody at the Olympics will drink lots of vodka."

After Kovalev's goal, Wayne Gretzky hastily left with his wife, Janet Jones.

Sweden 6, Switzerland 2

Sweden's men's coach said days ago he would rather play Switzerland and its three NHL players in the Olympic quarterfinals instead of traditional powers Canada and the Czech Republic.

The Swedes left little doubt Wednesday why their coach wanted to play the Swiss.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mats Sundin scored twice midway through the second period as Sweden pulled away in a 6-2 victory over Switzerland to advance to the semifinals.

"We had some pressure on us, and I thought we responded," Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It's good to get past this hurdle."

The Swedes face the Czech Republic on Friday.

Czech Rep. 3, Slovakia 1

The Czech Republic knocked previously unbeaten Slovakia out of the tournament in a lively border battle. Martin Rucinsky scored a short-handed goal and third-string goalie Milan Hnilicka made 20 saves as the Czechs rebounded from a mediocre preliminary round.

The win isn't surprising for a Czech team expected to be a top medal contender - but the loss is crushing to the Slovaks, who had roared through the preliminary round with five straight victories, winning its group.

The Czechs had all the poise, passion and crisp execution that the Slovaks lacked. Slovakia seemed tense and tight from the moment goalie Peter Budaj slipped while taking the ice for the pregame skate. With sharp passing and occasionally brilliant defense, the Czechs dominated the first two periods.

Milan Hejduk also scored and Martin Straka added an empty-net goal for the Czechs, who will face Sweden on Friday.