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Gold No. 24 for Big Red Machine

Russia's first World Championship title for 15 years keeps home-ice curse alive.

18-05-08
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Russia captain Alexei Morozov is hoisting the World Championship trophy. Photo: IIHF/HHoF/Matthew Manor

QUEBEC CITY – Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal at 2:42 of overtime broke a 4-4 tie and gave Russia an historic gold medal today at the Colisée in one of the most anticipated finals games in many years. Kovalchuk also scored the tying goal with five minutes left in the third period.

If this game isn't evidence enough to everyone in Canada of the calibre of play possible in the World Championship, nothing is or ever will be. Played at breathtaking speed with heart-pounding drama, this would surely rank in the top 10 of the IIHF's top 100 if the list were released next week instead of yesterday.

With Canada’s loss, the “home ice curse” at the IIHF World Championship continues. The last host team to win the title was the Soviets in 1986 in Moscow.

The win means also that Soviet Union / Russia now has equalled Canada's record of 24 World Championship gold medals. The precursor USSR won 22 gold medals before Russia took over in 1992.

Dany Heatley had a goal and an assist to bring his tournament-leading total to 20 points. He was named tournament MVP after the game.

The Russians struck quickly to open the scoring when Dan Hamhuis tried to pass Jay Bouwmeester, his defensive partner, behind the goal only to have the puck hit a referee’s skate directly behind the net. Alexander Ovechkin was right there and he made a quick pass to Alexander Semin in front. His quick shot beat an unsuspecting Cam Ward at 1:23.

Canada struck right back, though. Brent Burns’s quick shot from the point, just as Vitali Proshkin was about to check him from behind after coming out of the penalty box, beat a screened Evgeni Nakokov over the stick side to tie the game, 1-1.

Canada had the next great chance as Martin St. Louis beat Nabokov, but the puck hit the post and stayed out. The Canadians put one over the goal line at 9:17 after a turnover in centre ice. Chris Kunitz walked in on Nabokov and drilled a great shot over his glove to make it a 2-1 game.

The Canadians opened a two-goal lead at 14:51 on a 5-on-3. Sergei Fedorov was serving a delay-of-game penalty and Proshkin was serving four minutes for cutting Rick Nash with a high stick. Heatley fanned on a slapshot, but the puck still got to Martin St. Louis by the side of the net. He made a nifty little pass to Burns at the top of the crease. He one-timed it through Nabokov’s pads for his second goal of the game.

It was only in the final minute that Canada incurred its first penalty after five in a row to the Russians. It was this power-play time that created the lop-sided shots on goal margin of 15-5 for Canada after 20 minutes.

That late penalty proved costly as the Russians moved to within a goal at 1:14 of the second. Konstantin Korneyev’s point shot whistled well wide of the goal but it banked off the boards behind Ward and out the other side. Semin was right there to one-time a shot before the goalie could move over to cover the open side.

Moments later Semin fed a gorgeous breakaway pass to Ovechkin, but Bouwmeester bothered him enough as he shot to prevent a good chance. That proved vital as midway through the period Canada upped the score to 4-2 on a harmless-looking play. Getzlaf was cycling the puck in the corner when he spotted Heatley nearby. His shot to the short side beat Nabokov, a weak goal for the goalie to give up in such an important game. Ward then stoned Sergei Zinoviev from the slot with a great left pad save. Toward the end of the period, Andrei Markov missed an open net.

Canada started the third trying top protect the lead, something too dangerous to do when that lead is only two goals and the opponent Russia. Sure enough, the Russians fought back with a goal at 8:55 on a broken play. Alexei Tereshchenko jumped on a loose puck in the slot at rifled it between Ward’s legs to make it a 4-3 game.

With 6:45 to go, Ward made a phenomenal right pad save off Ovechkin, who cut through the slot and one-timed a shot labeled for the far side. A minute and a half later, however, Ilya Kovalchuk tied the game with a wrist shot using Bouwmeester as a screen. New game, and now Canada had to start doing what it had stooped for all of the third period—try scoring.

And then came Kovalchuk's heroics. He scored on a power play with Rick Nash in the box for delay of game after he shot the puck out of play at the Russian bench. The four officials huddled to discuss the play before calling the penalty. Ironically, the Russians received two delay of game penalties during regulation time. Kovalchuk moved in from the point and rifled a shot over Ward's shoulder before jumping for joy.

Russia, after 15 years, had finally won gold.

NOTES:

  • Heatley's 12 goals is a modern-day record for Canada, eclipsing 11 set by Eric Lindros in 1993. His 20 points also ties another Canadian record set by Steve Yzerman in 1990.
  • Despite the loss, Canada moves into the top spot of the world ranking.
  • Attendance was 13,338.
  • Sergei Fedorov last played at a World Championship in 1990, winning gold.
  • Alexander Ovechkin was making his fifth straight World Championship appearance for Russia.


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