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Russia cruises past Slovakia to World Championship gold

The Canadian Press

5/20/2012 4:38:55 PM

HELSINKI, Finland -- A golden performance at the IIHF World Hockey Championship has rarely ever looked so good.

Russia steamrolled its way to the title Sunday with an impressive 6-2 victory over Slovakia, completing a perfect run through a tournament where it was barely even threatened.

Like every other opponent, the Slovaks simply had no answer for a star-studded Russian roster that thrived under new coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. Consider the stats: Russia won 10 games over 16 days by a total score of 44-14.

The silver medal was still a special achievement for Slovakia, which played well above its skill level after dedicating the tournament to former national team captain Pavol Demitra. He was one of 44 people killed in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash, the majority of them Russian.

On Sunday, Alex Semin led the way offensively for Russia with two goals and an assist while Alexander Perezhogin, Alexei Tereshenko, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin also scored.

Zdeno Chara scored twice for Slovakia.

The heavy underdogs briefly enjoyed some momentum after the big defenceman beat Semyon Varlamov with a booming slapshot a little over one minute into the game.

However, it soon became clear that Russia would not be stopped. It almost appeared as though there were more red sweaters on the ice than white ones with the amount of puck possession Russia enjoyed.

Semin tied the game midway through the first period after linemate Alex Ovechkin blew past a defender and then the team really put the pedal down. Perezhogin, Tereshenko and Semin scored nine minutes apart in the second period, making the final 20 minutes little more than an extended celebration for the many Russians who packed Hartwall Arena.

It's the third time in five years Russia has won gold at this tournament and it arguably sets them up as the favourite heading into the 2014 Olympics on home soil in Sochi. They seemed to score at will throughout this world championship while playing a more defensive style under Bilyaletdinov.

They only allowed six goals at even strength throughout the tournament.

Malkin put an exclamation point on Russia's victory with a breathtaking goal in the dying minutes. Not only did that secure the tournament scoring title for him with 19 points, it was soon followed by Malkin being named the world championship MVP.

What a performance. What a team.

Notes:@ The world championship all-star team: Malkin, Chara, forwards Patrick Thoresen (Norway) and Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden), defenceman Ilya Nikulin (Russia) and goalie Jan Laco (Slovakia) ... The Czech Republic took the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over Finland ... Russia has come away from the tournament with a medal six of the last eight years ... Slovakia's last world championship medal was a bronze in 2003 ... Announced attendance was 13,242.