Ice hockey: Canada, U.S. advance; Russia sweats

Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:30pm EST
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By Frank Pingue

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Canada, the United States and Finland all earned byes to the quarter-finals of the men's ice hockey tournament at the Sochi Games on Sunday while hosts Russia were forced into a do-or-die qualification game.

The Canadian and U.S. teams advanced by winning their respective groups in the preliminary round while Finland squeaked in as the best second-placed team of the three groups. Sweden secured their quarter-final spot on Friday.

Canada and Finland, tied atop Group B entering the final game of the preliminary round, went toe-to-toe in a defensive battle that needed overtime, with Canada triumphing 2-1 on a Drew Doughty goal.

With the win, the defending gold medalists avoided a possible quarter-final clash with Russia, and will instead play the winner of Latvia versus Switzerland qualification game.

"That was unbelievable. I don't know what's going on. I don't usually score goals like that. Just glad I'm helping my team out and scoring some big goals," Doughty told reporters.

"We needed this win today."

The lowest eight seeds in the 12-team tournament will play a qualification playoff on Tuesday to determine Wednesday's four quarter-final matchups.

Russia's 1-0 shootout win over Slovakia on Sunday followed a regulation win and an overtime loss, leaving them two points shy of the Americans in Group A and fifth overall.   Continued...

Canada's Drew Doughty (8) celebrates his game winning overtime goal against Finland with teammates during their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young