Russia sets up semifinal showdown with Canada

Russia downed an overmatched Team Finland 3-0, and spoiled the party for Team North America, moving on to Saturday’s semifinal against Canada.

If you found yourself hoping against hope for a World Cup of Hockey semifinal between Canada and Team North America, you’ll be disappointed. But the consolation prize certainly isn’t a bad one.

Anytime Russia locks horns with Canada, a semifinal that was clinched when Russia defeated an overmatched Team Finland 3-0 Thursday afternoon, there is a certain amount of intrigue. The rivalry between the two superpowers goes back a long way and has a mother lode of classic moments.

And then, of course, there’s always Sid vs. Ovie. And we’re thinking Alex Ovechkin is starting to get a little sick of losing to Sidney Crosby. Ovechkin has never beaten Crosby in a significant hockey event and the international history between the two has been downright ugly from Ovechkin’s perspective. They’ve played each other three times and Canada has dominated. At the 2005 World Junior Championship, Crosby had one assist in a 6-1 win over Russia in the gold medal game. At the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, Crosby and Ovechkin were held scoreless in a 7-3 win over Russia in the quarterfinal. And at the 2015 World Championship, Crosby had a goal and an assist in a 6-1 win in the gold medal game.

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The win by Russia also crystalized the standings for Group B, which means Sweden will face Team Europe in the other semifinal. Team Europe defeated Sweden 6-2 in a pre-tournament tune-up game, but it’s doubtful the Swedes, behind the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist, will be that bad again.

After a day off, Canada will take on Russia in the first semifinal Saturday night. Sweden and Team Europe will face each other Sunday afternoon, with the winners going to a best-of-three final next week.