Russia crush Canada to book semi-final spot

Thu May 20, 2010 5:22pm EDT
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COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - Holders Russia cruised past Olympic champions Canada 5-2 on Thursday to reach the world championship semi-finals and take revenge for their heavy defeat at the Vancouver Olympics in February.

The Russians, on track for their third straight title, notched their 26th consecutive world championship victory against the team that went on to win the Olympic gold medal after crushing them 7-3 in the quarter-finals.

The Russians, superior throughout, grabbed the lead in the final minute of the first period when Maxim Afinogenov saw his shot slip under the body of netminder Chris Mason.

They raced to a 4-0 lead before the Canadians, playing without their biggest NHL names with the league playoffs still ongoing, pulled one back through John Tavares.

Evgeni Malkin then grabbed his second goal of the evening to seal their win, leaving Matt Duchene to merely cut the deficit in the dying seconds.

Russia now face hosts Germany, who are eyeing their first world championship medal in 57 years, after edging past Switzerland 1-0 thanks to a goal by Philip Gogulla.

Earlier Sweden and the Czech Republic set up a world championship semi-final clash with wins over Denmark and Finland.

Sweden, who had beaten Denmark by at least three goals in five world championships since 2003, were never threatened in their 4-2 win over their fellow Scandinavians.

The Czechs needed a penalty shootout to edge past Finland with the score tied 1-1 after 70 minutes play.

Jan Marek scored his penalty and Finland's Petri Kontiola missed his to hand the Czechs a 2-1 win.

(Writing by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Ed Osmond and Alison Wildey)

<p>The players of the Czech Republic celebrate after their victory over Finland in their Ice Hockey World Championships match in Cologne May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor</p>