Russia and Canada looking for perfect finish to worlds

Fri May 16, 2008 3:01pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - Canada may be hosting the hockey world championships but arch-rivals Russia have made themselves at home in Quebec City.

While Canada cruised through the round-robin stage and quarter-finals unbeaten in Halifax, Russia were doing the same in Quebec City, which will host Friday's semi-finals, Saturday's bronze medal contest and the title game on Sunday.

Canada will face Olympic champions Sweden while Russia meet Finland in the other semi-final match.

It will mark the third consecutive year Canada and Sweden have clashed in the semi-finals.

Bidding to become the first hosts to claim the title since the Soviet Union in 1986, Canada has not lost at the worlds since losing to Finland in the bronze medal playoff in 2006, stringing together 16 consecutive victories.

After their traditional slow start to the tournament, the Canadians have stormed into the last four on 10-1, 6-3, 8-2 wins.

The champions have allowed the fewest goals and, led by the Ottawa Senators' Dany Heatley and the Columbus Blue Jackets' Rick Nash, are the top scorers.

With so much firepower to defuse, Sweden's success will depend on team play and the work of New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist in net.   Continued...