HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - Russia and Canada remained on a collision course at the ice hockey world championships on Monday, completing qualification round play unbeaten to take top spot in their group standings.
With Prime Minister Stephen Harper looking on, Canada cruised to a 6-3 win over Finland in a rematch of last year’s final to clinch first place in Group F while Russia beat Switzerland 5-3 to finish top of Group E.
The Swiss will not have to wait long for a shot at revenge, the Russian victory setting up a quarter-final rematch on Wednesday in Quebec City.
Champions Canada, bidding to become the first host country to win the title since the Soviet Union in 1986, will play Norway, who sneaked into the last eight when Germany shocked Latvia 5-3 to end the qualification round.
The other quarter-final pairings have Olympic champions Sweden taking on the Czech Republic while Finland and the United States will renew hostilities in a rematch of their ill-tempered clash on Sunday that produced 202 minutes in penalties and saw three players handed game suspensions.
Ryan Getzlaf scored on the first shot of the game 33 seconds into the opening period for Canada, who handed the Finns their first loss of the tournament.
Dany Heatley scored twice giving the Ottawa Senators forward a tournament best nine goals while captain Shane Doan also scored twice and Patrick Sharp added a short-handed effort.
“We wanted to get that number one seed and treated it as a do-or-die,” said Sharp. “We’re taking one game at a time.”
Russia, without a gold medal since 1993, stormed to a 4-0 lead then fended off a spirited comeback by the Swiss, who could have taken top spot in the group with victory.
Maxim Sushinskiy led Russia with two goals while NHL scoring champion Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Dmitri Kalinin and Sergei Fedorov each scored once.
Switzerland rallied in the third behind a powerplay tally from Raffaele Sannitz and a shorthanded effort from Julien Vauclair to trim the Russian lead to 4-2.
But Sushinskiy stalled the Swiss comeback with a late third period goal.
Earlier, Norway had a chance to book their first ticket to the championship quarter-finals by beating the U.S. but came out flat as the Americans strolled to a 9-1 win.
Germany, however, came to their rescue with Yannic Seidenberg and Christoph Ullmann scoring late third period goals to break open a 3-3 tie to send Norway through.
“We were sleeping, they were sleeping and in the third they woke up and we couldn‘t,” said Latvian netminder Edgars Masalskis. “We knew we needed a point. I can’t believe we lost.”
Editing by Miles Evans and Greg Stutchbury