World Championships 2007 Semi Final Day

Saturday, 12th May 2007
World Championships 2007 - Semi Final Day
RUSSIA 1 FINLAND 2  ( After overtime)
Both teams were missing key players for this game, Russia were without top scorer Morozov and Finland had to play minus the evergreen Nummelin.
Within a minute of the start, Zinoviev was sent to the box on a tripping minor but nothing came of the Finnish powerplay. The game was tight and mostly played in the neutral zone with nothing really happening until 5:40. Markov brought the puck out of the Russian zone and just after he made a pass to the wing, Bergenheim hit him knee on knee on the blue line. Markov stayed down and had to be helped off, Kovalchuk took revenge with a nasty slash on Bergenheim and got himself a 2 minute minor. Bergenheim quite rightly was kicked out on a 5 minute major plus game misconduct.
The 4 on 4 stage of the penalty went by without event but with the man advantage Russia took the lead. 8:36 gone and Malkin strolled into the right face off circle and unleashed a howitzer that beat Lehtonen on his stick side. The game turned very physical for a while and Viukhola was crushed on the boards. Russian captain Schlastlivy took a hard hit in the corner from Tomi Kallio and failed to return in the game. The rough stuff continued and Mikko Koivu hit Nepryaev from behind and went to the box on a 2 plus 10. Finland got themselves back into the game with a fine shorthanded goal on the Koivu penalty. Finland cleared the puck into the neutral zone and Kapanen fed the puck into space on the centre line. Hentunen got there first and hit a neat forehand past Eremenko for the equaliser. The period ended with a spectacular hit as Tuomo Ruttu hammered  his shoulder into Zinoviev who went flying up in the air. End of the 1st Finland 1 Russia 1.
The second was again a tough, physical affair with hard hits aplenty. Not a lot of free flowing hockey was evident from two teams that specialise in it. The bitty period ended with no addition to the scoreline and a total of  3 minor penalties to each team.
The early part of the 3rd was a sparring session from long range . Frolov missed a good chance around the 47th minute mark . Russia were again on the powerplay with 6 minutes left and Lehtonen had to be sharp saving from Zinoviev. Radulov came close with a wraparound attempt and the game ended with Finland pressing but no real scoring chance. End of 3rd period 1-1.
There were chances galore for both teams in overtime as tiredness took its toll. Gonchar nearly put the puck into his own net and the superb Kazan unit, icing Brylin instead of the injured Markov, came close with a pinball type play in front of Lehtonen. The winning goal came out of the blue from Finland when at 5:40 in the overtime period Mikko Koivu skated into the slot , chasing a pass from Tuomo Ruutu. Russian goalie, Eremenko seemed to come out too far and Koivu lifted the goalie’s stick as he tried to poke check the puck away from danger and managed to get his own stick on the puck to nudge it into the net for the winning score. Finland went mad as the whole bench dived onto the ice, leaving the Russians dejected and unbelieving.
Finland now move on to the final and Russia lose a WC game on home ice for the first time in history.
The semi final match up between Canada and last years champions Sweden was set up to be a cracker. Canada with their powerful offence and Sweden’s resilience.
After a cagey start by both teams Canada drew first blood at 11:05 on the powerplay. They worked the puck around the Swedish defence until Cammalleri took a shot from the face off circle which bounced off the skate of a D man in front of Backlund and into the net. A minute later Canada doubled the lead. Jordan Staal had control behind the net and passed to Toews who powered his way to the net , scoring as he was checked by the defence. An absolutely superb goal for Canada at 18:38 gave them possibly the goal that would take them to the final. Cammalleri had the puck inside his own blue line and fed a beaut of a pass to Eric Staal bursting up the middle. Staal drove the net and faked the goalie onto his backside and slipped the puck through his legs into the net. End of the period and 3-0 to Canada.
Sweden pulled a goal back on 26:13. After a tussle at a face off , players moved but the puck stayed motionless. Davidsson reacted fastest and hit a shot towards the goal and it bounced off Shea Weber’s skate and past Ward. Shortly afterwards, Sweden came close to a second goal when Backstrom picked the puck up in the slot but Ward got a pad on the ice to make a great save. Canada restored their 3 goal lead on 35:17 on a powerplay. Sweden over committed and broke out with 3 men and when the move broke down they could not get back and Rick Nash skated coast to coast and beat Backlund with a low shot. Canada were in total control for the rest of the period and went in 4-1 up and had one foot in tomorrow’s final.
Canada took the foot off the gas in the third and rotated the lines on 30 second shifts to conserve energy. Sweden huffed and puffed but never looked like troubling the Canadians. Final Score 4-1.
Canada breeze into the final to meet Finland. Last years champions slink home after a dreadful performance and the coach has to explain to the Swedish public why he refused to bring some NHL’ers over after their play off experiences ended.
Tomorrow sees the culmination of 2 weeks scintillating hockey as Russia play Sweden for the bronze medal and Finland take on Canada in the final tomorrow evening.