National Hockey League

Canada and Finland to play for gold at world championships

nhl1Canada and Finland will meet for the gold medal Sunday at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The Canadians cruised to a 5-1 semifinal victory Saturday against the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Finland posted a 1-0 win over Russia.

It is a rematch of the 2016 final in Moscow, where Canada beat Finland 2-0 to win its 26th gold medal. The Finns are seeking their third gold, and first since 2011.

It is also a rematch of Canada’s first game at this tournament, a 3-1 loss to Finland on May 10.

Russia and the Czech Republic will face off in Sunday’s bronze-medal game.

Celebrating his 25th birthday, goaltender Matt Murray stopped 40 of 41 shots to lead Canada against the Czechs.

Canada opened the scoring at 5:18 of the first period when Mark Stone beat goalie Patrik Bartosak, deflecting the puck just inside the post. It was the tournament-leading eighth goal for Stone.

Darnell Nurse scored 10 seconds into the second period and Pierre-Luc Dubois made it 3-0 just five minutes later, bringing an end to Bartosak’s day.

The lead swelled to 5-0 on third-period goals by Kyle Turris and Thomas Chabot before the Czechs finally dented Murray. Chabot bobbled a pass at his blue line and Tomas Zohorna picked it up and skated in alone, beating Murray with a high shot with 6:01 left to play.

Finland’s Marko Anttila scored the only goal of the other semifinal with 9:42 left in the third period to stun the Russians, 1-0.

Anttila corralled the loose puck after Henri Jokiharju’s shot ricocheted off defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, then fired it through goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s legs.

“He took a stick in the face and came back and scored the game-winning goal,” said Finnish goalie Kevin Lankinen, who stopped 32 shots in his second shutout of the tournament. “That shows a lot of character.”

Russia pulled Vasilevskiy with two minutes to go, but Lankinen held his ground and made a fine blocker save late against Nikita Kucherov.

“We couldn’t score and then we allowed a soft goal at the other end,” Russian defenseman Mikhail Sergachyov said. “They got a lucky bounce. That was the difference. We have to give them their due: They defended well against our forwards. They didn’t give us anything.”

–Field Level Media

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