BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Russia eliminated Olympic champion Canada 2-1 to reach the semifinals of the ice hockey world championship on Thursday.
Russia will play Finland in Friday’s semis, and the Czech Republic will meet Sweden.
Alexei Kaigorodov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored late for Russia to overcome the Canadians.
“It doesn’t really matter for me who scores the goal,” said Kovalchuk after his first goal at the worlds. “We just want to win. We showed some character.
“We need to recover tonight and it’s going to be a big game tomorrow.”
Canada captain Rick Nash was disappointed.
“That’s tough,” Nash said. “It takes one game, one period, couple minutes here and there and you could be out of it.”
It was the first loss for Canada at this year’s tournament while Russia lost to Germany, Finland and the Czech Republic in the group stage before reaching the playoffs.
“They got two goals, it was just a bad 10 minutes, it was unfortunate it was the last 10 minutes of the game,” Nash said.
Canada’s Jason Spezza opened the scoring after collecting a pass from Alex Pietrangelo on the blue line to net a breakaway goal 5:32 into the middle period.
Kaigorodov equalized 9:07 into the final period with a short-handed goal on a breakaway, and Kovalchuk scored with 7:41 remaining.
“It’s not very good that two such big hockey nations meet in the quarterfinals because one of the two teams has to go home,” Russia coach Vyacheslav Bykov said.
“We’re happy to win and hope to keep it that way.”
“It’s an awful feeling,” Canada’s Dion Phaneuf said. “We came here to win and we came up short. It’s very disappointing.”
Canada recorded nine shots on goal in the first five minutes while Russia had none.
Overall, Canada outshot Russia 37-20.
Canada goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped 18 shots while Russia goalie Konstantin Barulin made 36 saves.
Russia topped Canada for the second straight year after winning 5-2 in the quarters at last year’s worlds. Russia, seeking its 26th world title also beat Canada in the finals of 2008 and ’09.
“Both teams played their hearts out,” Canada coach Ken Hitchcock said.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the third period … we couldn’t stretch the 1-nothing lead once we had it. It was a very emotional and tense game. The difference in the game was at the end of the day some of the best players of Russia stepped it up in the third period when they needed to and played very well.”
Jarkko Immonen scored twice to help Finland beat Norway 4-1.
“I don’t think it matters for us (who we play next),” Finland captain Mikko Koivu said. “We have to stay strong as a team, do the things that we do good, trying to do things that we can do better a little bit better again and move forward.”
Finland, the 1995 champion, last won a medal at the 2008 worlds when it took bronze.
Norway has never beaten Finland at the worlds.
Copyright Associated Press