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CANADA 2 vs. LATVIA 1
The Canadians would run into a hot goaltender and they fairytale story of the Olympics, but would outlast Latvia in a 2-1 win, to advance to the semifinals against the United States.
Canada took the 1-0 lead at 13:37 of the first period. Rick Nash wrapped the puck around the net and passed it to Patrick Sharp at the point. With a screen out in front of Kristers Gudlevskis, Sharp sank his one-timer into the back of the net.
Lauris Darzins tied the game up for Latvia courtesy of a nice move on the breakaway. All alone on Carey Price, Darzins deked to his backhand and roofed the shot over Price for the score.
The Canadians peppered the Latvian goalie with shots to start the third period. The shot tally was 12-1 in favour of Canada when the red and white nearly scored. With Gudlevskis sprawled on the ice, the puck tip toed the goal line before a Latvian player covered it up. The play was reviewed and confirmed as a no goal.
It took until Canada’s 54th shot of the game to take back the lead. At 13:06 of the third period, Shea Weber blasted a shot from the point that sizzled past Gudlevskis and gave Canada the 2-1 advantage.
After facing 57 shots and making 55 saves, Gudlevskis was pulled for the extra attacker as the clock dwindled down in the final frame.
The Latvians couldn’t get the equalizer and their Olympic run came to an end with their best finish in history.
USA 5 vs. CZECH REPUBLIC 2
Offence was the name of the game for USA as they score five goals and defeat the Czech Republic, 5-2 to advance to the semifinals.
James Van Riemsdyk put USA on top early at 1:39 of the opening period. Van Riemsdyk slipped the puck in between the post and Odrej Pavelec, from a steep angle.
Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky spun around with the puck in the slot, crashing the net and scoring the equalizer, unassisted at 4:31 of the first period.
The Americans took back the lead at 14:38 of the first, courtesy of a great pass and backdoor shot. David Backes found Dustin Brown with a beautiful pass through traffic and Brown found twine to take the lead, 2-1.
Backes scored a goal of his own with 1.8 seconds remaining in the first period. Backes shot the puck from the goal line and it zinged right underneath Pavelec’s glove and in for the 3-1 lead, heading into the first intermission.
The U.S. continued to roll in the second period and took a three-goal lead on their third goal from the side of the net. Zach Parise swiped at the puck near the goal line and put it home, between the legs of Pavelec.
After letting in four goals on 12 shots by the Americans, Pavelec was pulled in favour of Alexander Salak.
Phil Kessel scored his fifth goal of the tournament by crashing the net backdoor and redirecting a pass by Ryan Kesler at 2:01 of the third period. The goal gave USA the 5-1 lead.
Hemsky sniped his second goal of the game, top shelf on Jonathan Quick, off the crossbar at 13:00 of the third period.
The goal was too little, too late for the Czech Republic as the Americans skate their way to the semifinals with the 5-2 win.
FINLAND 3 vs. RUSSIA 1
Russia’s quest to win gold on home ice was spoiled by Finland as Tuukka Rask turned in an impressive 37-save performance to beat the host country, 3-1.
Things started out as expected for Russia, with the hosts taking the lead at 7:51 of the opening period. Ilya Kovulchuk put home the one-timer from the top of the circles, set up by Pavel Datsyuk.
Juhamatti Aaltonen scored the equalizer for Finland, just 87 seconds later.
At 17:38 of the first period, Finland broke in on a 2-on-1 rush. Mikael Granlund passed the puck to Teemu Selanne and the 43 year-old slipped the puck by Semyon Varlamov. The goal gave Finland a lead that they wouldn’t surrender.
Granlund provided some insurance in the second period with his goal, making it 3-1. However, it would take some big saves by Rask to give Finland the win.
Rask turned away 14 shots in the third.
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Anton Belov played over 17 minutes (17:35) for Russia and finished the game -1 with two shots on goal.
Finland advances to the semi-finals where they will take on their rivals, Sweden on Friday.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
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