Canada Beats Ukraine 2-1 at Hockey Worlds
INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) _ Rick Nash scored his tournament-leading ninth goal in the third period Tuesday, giving Canada a 2-1 victory over last-place Ukraine at the world hockey championships.
Depending on the outcome of Sweden’s final second-round game with Latvia later Tuesday, Canada will finish Group F in either first or second place and play its quarterfinal game in Innsbruck instead of having to travel to Vienna.
The United States secured a quarterfinal berth out of Group F on Monday when it tied Ukraine 1-1. The Americans’ opponent on Thursday won’t be known until play is completed Tuesday.
Slovakia, which already qualified for the quarterfinals, beat Kazakhstan 3-1 in a Group E game in Vienna. Russia finished first in the group, while the Czech Republic and Switzerland also advanced to the elimination round.
Nash, the 20-year-old star of the Columbus Blue Jackets, scored the winning goal at 9:54 of the third period by firing in a rising wrist shot from a tough angle while Canada was on a power play.
``It was fairly lucky,″ Nash said. ``The puck rolled a bit and that helped it go top corner. But in those type of games you take them any way you can get them.″
Joe Thornton, tied with Nash for the tournament scoring lead with 11 points, got an assist.
Brendan Morrison gave Canada a 1-0 lead 6:43 in, backhanding a loose puck into the net. Andrei Sryubko tied it four minutes later, shooting the puck between Martin Brodeur’s pads.
``The Swedes had a tough time against them, the United States tied them,″ Nash said of Ukraine. ``We were lucky to come out with two points.
``We definitely have to improve our game. I feel we will step up once we get the good teams. Playing games like today is tough for us.″
Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, playing his seventh straight worlds and a member of the team that won back-to-back titles in 2003 and ’04, agreed that Canada must improve.
``It sure wasn’t our finest,″ Smyth said. ``We have to play with a little more intensity for 60 minutes. These things happen, but a win is a win.″
Slovakia’s victory put them in second place in group E and forced the Czech Republic to beat Belarus later Tuesday to finish behind Russia.
Miroslav Satan put Slovakia ahead on the power play at 5:58, but Andrey Ogorodnikov made it 1-1 just four minutes later with a power-play goal.
Early in the second period, Satan assisted on Ziggy Palffy’s fourth goal of the tournament to give Slovakia the lead again. Michael Handzus scored the only even-strength goal of the game, off a pass from Richard Zednik, 2:54 into the third period to make it 3-1.
``It was tougher than we had hoped for, but we were also pretty tired,″ Slovak coach Frantisek Hossa said.
The two top teams of Group E will stay in Vienna for the quarterfinals, while the third and fourth-place teams will travel nearly 400 miles west to Innsbruck. Teams finishing third and fourth in Group F will go to Vienna.
In other games Tuesday, Kasper Degn scored midway through the third period to give Denmark a 3-2 victory over Germany and avoid relegation.
``We were confident we could beat them,″ defenseman Morten Dahlmann said. ``Our goal was to stay in the championship and we did.″
Denmark has four points atop the relegation-round standings. Germany was next with three, followed by Slovenia with two and Austria with one. Austria is scheduled to meet Slovenia on Wednesday in the last relegation-round game.
The two top teams will stay in the championship next year, while the last two will be are demoted.
``This win means a lot for Danish hockey,″ coach Mikael Lundstrom said. ``Our young players will get the chance to develop further at the highest level.″
Associated Press writer Harry Miltner in Vienna contributed to this report.