BERNE (Reuters) - Russia rallied to beat Canada 2-1 and win the world ice hockey championship on Sunday, its second successive final victory over the same opponent.
Jason Spezza gave Canada an early lead but Oleg Saprykin equalized in the first period and Alexander Radulov fired the winner five minutes from the end of the second.
The Russians, who won last year’s final 5-4 in overtime on Canadian soil to win the trophy for the first time in 15 years, survived a tense third period to frustrate their opponents again.
Russia goalminder Ilya Bryzgalov saved 37 out of 38 shots while his opposite number Dwayne Roloson faced only 17 shots all evening.
Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk was named player of the tournament (MVP).
“We know the way they play, and they know the way we operate,” said Radulov. “I think we started the game better than they did, but by the second period they got more shots. Our goalie was outstanding.”
Canada coach Lindy Ruff said: “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and they did. Bryzgalov didn’t make any mistakes or let us back in the game.”
Canada survived an early Russia powerplay, thanks to superb point-blank saves by Roloson, and went ahead when Spezza fired the puck past Bryzgalov from Shea Weber’s pass at 5.37 minutes.
Russia leveled during another powerplay, Braydon Coburn having been dispatched to the sin bin for delaying the game, when Vitali Atyushov pulled the puck back from behind the net and Saprykin fired home.
Canada dominated the second period, outshooting its opponents 16-5, as Martin St. Louis and Dan Hamhuis forced Bryzgalov to make difficult saves.
But Russia went ahead with five minutes left as Radulov finished off a two-on-one by collecting Konstantin Gorovikov’s pass, firing past Roloson and indulging in a stick-twirling celebration.
The Russians, guilty of some soccer-style diving which had the referees signaling for them to get up and play on, were happy to sit back in the third period and play on the counter-attack.
Canada had an excellent chance with two minutes left when Denis Grebeshkov lost possession and Canada found Shane Doan free, but he failed to control the puck and missed the chance for a breakaway.
“We didn’t get many chances, but we scored on those we had,” said Russia coach Slava Bykov.
“We tried to play good defense and be patient, but it isn’t easy against an opponent like Canada.”
Earlier, Sweden beat the United States 4-2 to clinch the bronze medal, Carl Gunnarsson scoring the third-period winner, to leave their opponents waiting for their first medal since 2004.
“We’re happy we won the bronze,” said Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson. “We played a U.S. team that has an interesting style, but our powerplay worked well and was the difference in this game.”
Editing by Ed Osmond and Ian Ransom; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org