Canada and Russia to meet in dream final

Fri May 16, 2008 10:40pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - Canada beat Olympic champions Sweden 5-4 on Friday to set up a mouth-watering gold medal showdown with long-time rivals Russia at the ice hockey world championship.

Earlier, Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves to earn the shutout as Russia beat Finland 4-0 and advanced to the title game for just the third time since 1993, when they last won the championship.

Finland will play Sweden for the bronze medal on Saturday.

Champions Canada and Russia both have unbeaten records heading into Sunday's final game, the two hockey superpowers providing a classic matchup for the International Ice Hockey Federation's 100th anniversary celebrations.

"There's a lot of history behind it and I think it's going to be a great final," Canada's Rick Nash told reporters. "They (Russia) are one of the most skilled teams in the tournament, it's going to be a tough game."

The Russians once dominated international hockey with the former Soviet Union winning 22 world titles, but since the break-up of the union the "Big Red Machine" has sputtered.

Despite their recent struggles their rivalry with Canada remains hockey's fiercest.

With the championships being staged in Canada for the first time, Russia would love nothing better than to end their gold drought by spoiling Canada's party.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Dany Heatley (15) and Rick Nash (61) celebrate a goal by teammate Ryan Getzlaf (not seen) on Sweden's goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) as Sweden's Magnus Johansson (6) and Jonas Frogren (24) look on during their semi-final game at the 2008 World Hockey Championships in Quebec City, May 16, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>