HALIFAX – Team Canada has passed its most significant test at this year’s IIHF World Hockey Championship with flying colours.
Shane Doan and Dany Heatley each scored twice Monday as the Canadians defeated Finland 6-3 in a matchup of unbeaten teams. They’ll face either Norway or Latvia in Wednesday’s quarter-final, pending the outcome of Monday’s late game between Latvia and Germany.
Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Sharp also had goals for Canada, which has now won 15 straight world championship games dating back to last year.
Antti Pihlstrom, with two, and Tuomo Ruutu had goals for the Finns, who will face the U.S. in the quarters.
Finland was playing for the second consecutive day and was without forward Olli Jokinen and defenceman Anssi Salmela, who each were suspended after receiving match penalties during a 3-2 win over the Americans on Sunday.
The rematch of last year’s gold-medal game was as physical as any Canada has played so far in this tournament, particularly in the first period when the Finns were strong on the forecheck.
The Canadians couldn’t have asked for a better start in front of 9,178 enthusiastic fans at the Metro Centre. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had barely sat down in his seat before Getzlaf got him out of it. The team’s top centre beat two defenders before lifting the puck over goalie Niklas Backstrom just 33 seconds into the game.
A needless turnover allowed the Finns to tie it 1-1 while they were short-handed. Heatley was standing along the boards near centre ice when he booted a long pass from goalie Pascal Leclaire, who barely got back to his net before Pihlstrom walked in and scored at 5:39.
Doan restored the lead with a short-handed goal of his own. He was stopped on a breakaway by Backstrom before spinning and firing in the rebound at 9:29. The Finns argued that Doan and Chris Kunitz were offside on the play but the goal stood.
Leclaire had to make a couple good saves to help his team keep that lead. Pihlstrom had a glorious chance on a cross-ice one-timer but was turned away by the Canadian goaltender, who later made a nice toe stop on Saku Koivu.
Canada had a quiet start to the second period before Heatley made it 3-1 at 10:17. He took a pass from Getzlaf, skated along the back icing line and lifted a backhander into the net.
Sharp all but put it away with Canada’s second short-handed goal of the game. He showed great speed in blowing past Finnish defender Ville Koistinen along the wing before beating Backstrom at 18:12.
A lucky bounce got Doan his second goal of the game. The Canadian captain had his shot ricochet off the helmet of Finland’s Sami Lepisto and into the goal at 1:07 of the third period.
The fans started getting on Backstrom after that, chanting his name as the seconds ticked down on his first loss of the tournament.
Pihlstrom’s second of the game at 8:34 of the final period made it 5-2 but the Finns didn’t have enough left in them to mount a comeback.
Heatley’s goal with just left than two minutes to play was his tournament-leading ninth – the most he’s ever scored in one world championship. He could still play three more games.
Ruutu scored with 23.3 seconds to play.