Canada beats Russia at Worlds
TURKU, Finland (CP) - Apparently the International Grind Line can score, too.
Charged with the daunting task of stopping Russia's No. 1 scoring line, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper - two thirds of Detroit's famed Grind Line - and Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes had a little more in mind at the world hockey championship Monday.
Maltby and Doan had two goals apiece while combining with Draper to shut down Russia's top line of Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and highly touted Red Wings draft pick Igor Grigorenko as Canada beat Russia 5-2 to claim first place in its qualifying group.
``I never expected this but fortunately I made the most of a couple of opportunities,'' said Maltby, who collected his first two goals of the championship. ``You remember all the history of all the Canada-Russia games from when you're a little kid all the way to this point, it's really special.
``We knew they were going to come out hard and really try to win this game for a lot of reasons. It's a great feeling personally and I'm just glad to be part of it.''
The Russians have only nine NHLers on their roster but had only three last year when they won the silver with talented Russian League players in Goteberg, Sweden. The second line has Frolov of the Los Angeles Kings with Oleg Saprykin of the Calgary Flames and Arkhipov.
Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres also scored for Canada (5-0-1), who will likely face Germany in a favourable quarter-final Wednesday. That could change if the Germans upset host Finland in their final qualifying game Tuesday in Helsinki. If that's the case, Canada meets the Finns in Helsinki.
In every game, a different forward line has stepped up for Canada, a sign of a team that has more depth than in recent years at the tournament.
``It's a really well-rounded team,'' said Edmonton Oilers defenceman Eric Brewer, playing in his third consecutive world championship. ``The forwards that we have on this team are extremely good. I think it's hard for teams to handle four consecutive lines. It's probably the most balanced team I've been on other than the Olympic team.''
And there's veteran netminder Sean Burke, who stopped 38 Russian shots Monday.
``We didn't come here to not win,'' said Doan. ``It starts with goaltending and we have, I think, the best goaltender in the world. I've played with him the last couple of years. He's just unbelievable and because of him we have a great chance.''
Burke closed the door in Monday's game with Russia pressing and the score still tied a 1-1.
``I think Sean Burke was the difference early in the second period when the game was still in the balance,'' said Brewer. ``He made some huge saves for us when we were a little scrambly.''
The Coyotes netminder stopped all 20 shots he faced in the middle period.
``I knew the Russians were a young team, they were a little down on themselves a little bit,'' Burke said, referring to Sunday's 2-1 Russian loss to Latvia. ``If you give them any momentum, that might be all they need to carry them. But if you can hold them down and come up with the big save at the right time it puts that doubt back in their mind.
``I think you saw that in the second period when they were a little demoralized and we were able to take advantage of that.''
And just as they did against Peter Forsberg's line in a 3-1 win over Sweden last week, the Maltby-Draper-Doan line completely shut down Russia's No. 1 unit.
Head coach Andy Murray and assistants Mike Pelino and Barry Trotz did a fantastic job of matching Draper's line to Datsyuk's.
``You come over here and Andy pretty much told me right off the bat what my role was going to be,'' said Draper. ``Malts and I are very familiar with one another and we do a lot of this back home with Detroit. To have an opportunity to do it with your country, we take a lot of pride in what we're doing.''
And when they weren't busy checking the Russian stars, they helped out offensively. Maltby's goal broke a 1-1 deadlock 7:58 into the second period, coming from behind the net and beating goalie Egor Podomatski with a precise backhand under the crossbar. Doan started the play by beating two Russian players to a loose puck in the corner and feeding it over to Maltby behind the net.
Briere's goal with 4:04 left in the second period was a real back-breaker for Russia as he re-directed defenceman Jay Bouwmeester's pass from the blue-line to give Canada a commanding 3-1 lead.
Then Maltby sealed the victory with a short-handed goal just 34 seconds into the third period, faking a pass to Draper on a 2-on-1 and beating a shaky Podomatski between the legs.
``Malts and I have been killing penalties together for about seven years now, and we take a lot of pride in that and we always feel that we can be dangerous if we get a chance on the counter-attack,'' said Draper.
Doan made it 5-1 with just over seven minutes left with his second power-play goal of the game, deflecting a shot past a screened Podomatski.
Denis Arkhipov of the Nashville Predators added a late goal to complete the scoring, his rising wrist shot from the top of the slot beating Burke over his right shoulder.
Russia, meanwhile, now needs help if it wants to play another game. If Switzerland earns at least a point against Sweden while Latvia beats Denmark on Tuesday, Russia would be knocked out.
The Russians, who needed a point to clinch a quarter-final spot, came out strong and opened the scoring with the man advantage 4:46 into the first period, Sergei Gusev's point shot deflecting off Alexander Frolov's body and behind a screened Burke.