COLOGNE – Russia continued its march to a third straight gold medal with a 5-2 triumph quarterfinal victory over Canada on Thursday for its seventh straight win at the 2010 IIHF World Championship and its 26th consecutive victory.
In the semi-finals, Russia will meet host Germany.
"That game will be a lot of fun," said Russian captain Ilya Kovalchuk. "It's the first time ever they will be in the semifinal and it will be fun."
The 26-game run at the world tournament began with the bronze medal game in 2007 and now the Russians are two games away from keeping a promise they made when Canada humiliated them in the quarterfinal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Kovalchuk was asked whether the Russians can be stopped.
"We'll see. The way we play..." he said.
"I feel good, this was a huge win,'' added Denis Grebeshkov. "I'm happy that we're now through to semifinal but I'm also happy for the way we played a defensively sound game.
As for Germany, he said: "We'll play the home team so the crowd will be with them."
After they lost 7-3 and people questioned their character, the Russian Olympians vowed then to show the world they had more to their mettle than what they showed in Vancouver and with 14 Olympians at the worlds here in Germany, they’ve answered those critics.
Russia has skill and speed and the players are listening to the coaching staff, which hasn’t always been the norm in international events.
Russia has now advanced to the medal round for the third straight World Championship.
Canada, with one player in the line-up who mined Olympic gold in Vancouver, finished seventh for its second worst showing since 1992 when they were eighth. The 2010 tournament marks the first semi-final that Canada has not qualified for since 2002.
"The game was an extension of the tournament," said captain Ray Whitney.
The Russians went into the game against their longtime rivals saying there was no comparison to the competition here and at the best-on-best Olympic competition of three months ago.
But as history has shown, a Canada-Russia game at any level brings out the best and worst of each hockey superpower and the quarterfinal was another installment in their fabled rivalry.
Goalies Chris Mason of Canada and Russia’s Semyon Varlamov were called on to make spectacular saves, much to the delight of the sea of red Russian jerseys in Lanxess Arena. The fans chanted "Rossiya, Rossiya, Rossiya" throughout the game.
"There were a couple of chances that we'd like to have back, had we scored on those, it would have been a different game," said Corey Perry.
It didn’take long for the bad blood between longtime rivals to boil over and there was no shortage of hard punishing hits, faces being washed by gloves, and cheap hits being delivered by both sides.
The Russians and Canadians didn’t have much working on the power play chances in the first period.
The Russians executed a boatload of crisp passes and dazzled everybody with their skill but it produced only one good scoring chance. Evgeni Malkin tipped a point shot and Mason did the splits to rob him of a goal with five minutes left in the first period.
The best scoring chance the Canadians had came midway through the period when Steve Stamkos got the blade of his stick on a low shot and the puck hit a surprised Varlamov in the shoulder.
The Russians took a 1-0 lead at 19:02 of the first period on a wrist shot by Maxim Afinogenov that Mason got a piece of but not enough to stop the puck from trickling into the net.
With Canada’s Steve Stamkos in the penalty box for boarding, Pavel Datsyuk doubled Russia’s lead at 1:34 of the second period. Datsyuk showed the European audience what people in NHL arenas have seen him do many times before when he lifted the puck high over Mason from the lip of the crease.
Then with Perry in the penalty box for a slash on Russian star Alexander Ovechkin, Malkin made it 3-0 at 17:31 of the second period on a shot from between the faceoff circles that slid under Mason has he dropped to his knees in the crease in an attempt to make the save.
Sergei Fedorov tipped a point shot for a 4-0 lead at 7:31 of the third period.
John Tavares scored at 13:52 of the third for Canada’s only scoring play and with Canada’s net empty for an extra attacker, Malkin scored his second goal of the game at 16:56. Matt Duchene made it 5-2 with 14 seconds left in the game.
Canada finished the 2010 Worlds with three straight losses.