QUEBEC – Russia has too good a team to hand over easy goals, but the Swiss on the other hand were in a giving mood on Wednesday night.
Swiss defencemen Raphael Diaz and Philippe Furrer put pucks into their own net past a startled Martin Gerber in the opening seven minutes to help Russia to a 6-0 victory in the quarter-finals of the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
Russia, seeking its first world championship title since 1993, advanced to the semifinals against Finland, which beat the United States 3-2 in overtime in Halifax. The Finns beat the Russians on their home ice in the semifinals a year ago in Moscow.
“We needed to have a tight game to make it a game and it didn’t happen,” said Swiss coach Ralph Krueger. “A crazy set of circumstances put us in a hole we couldn’t get out of.”
The Russians had a setback of their own at 13:13 of the third period. Despite leading by six goals, star forward Ilya Kovalchuk reacted to a hit by a Swiss player by taking a long run and leveling defenceman Julien Vauclair with a shoulder hit.
Kovalchuk was given a five minute major for charging and a game misconduct and now will miss the semifinals. It was his second game misconduct of the tournament, which carries an automatic one-game suspension.
Vauclair, a former Ottawa Senator, lay on the ice for several minutes, but then refused a stretcher and got to the trainers room on his own. Krueger fears he may be badly injured.
“Julien was walking down the hall, but he’s in a lot of pain,” the coach said. “It looks like we have some internal injuries. He’s getting an ultrasound now and we hope he’s OK.”
He would say only that the injury affected “the lower two-thirds of the body.”
Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov said Kovalchuk kept his elbow down for the hit but may have taken a few too many steps before contact was made.
“We like to play a physical game but by no means are we out to hurt people,” Bykov said. “That is not the philosophy of our team.”
It capped a game that Russia put away early, with some Swiss help.
Alexander Semin opened the scoring 1:14 into the game on a shot from the left circle with Alexander Ovechkin screening Gerber.
Gerber had no chance as Maxim Afinogenov got credit for the goal that Diaz pushed into his own net with his hand at 2:18. And Danis Zaripov was given a goal that Furrer shot into his own net at 6:23.
Diaz was laying in the crease after an Afinogenov drive to the net and tried to push the puck under Gerber to freeze it, but saw it slide under his goaltender and into the net.
Furrer was attempting to clear the puck around the boards while killing a penalty, but his slapshot from the left circle after Andres Ambuhl won a faceoff went straight into the net. By the start of the second period, the goal was on YouTube.
“Maybe we were trying too much,” said Swiss veteran Marc Reichert. “One guy wanted to rim it around the boards and he missed the angle and it was in.
“The other tried to help the goalie and missed. You can’t blame those guys. It was just really unlucky.”
In other action at the tournament Wednesday, it was: Canada 8 Norway 2; Finland 3 United States 2 (OT); and Sweden 3 Czech Republic 2 (OT).
At Quebec City, Afinogenov, with his second goal of the game, Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov scored in the second frame for Russia.
Evgeny Nabokov made 22 saves for the shutout, but expects a tougher test against the Finns.
“It’ll be way harder than this game,” he said. “They’re more skilled, they’re more physical.
“They have a great power play. They have everything.”
With the score 5-0 on only 14 Russian shots at 13:25 of the second, Gerber was replaced in goal by Jonas Hiller, who allowed one goal on 16 shots the rest of the way.
Switzerland’s best chance came when Ambuhl had a short-handed breakaway in the second period, but Nabokov sprawled to make the save.
Switzerland last reached the semifinals while playing at home in 1998. They will play host to the tournament again next year.
Kovalchuk got a game misconduct during round robin play for getting into a fight with Sweden’s Anton Stralman.
Canada 8 Norway 2
At Halifax, Canada is headed to the final four after trouncing Norway.
Derek Roy scored a hat trick while Rick Nash added a pair of goals and Dany Heatley, Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Toews all chipped in with singles for Canada.
Mathis Olimb and Morten Ask scored for Norway.
The Canadians will face Sweden in the semifinal.
Sweden 3 Czech Republic 2 (OT)
At Quebec, Mattias Weinhandl scored 3:15 into overtime to give Sweden a victory over the Czech Republic and a berth in the semifinals, where it will face Canada on Friday.
It is the eighth consecutive year Sweden will play in the semifinals, where it lost 4-1 to Canada last year in Moscow.
Sweden’s Patric Hornqvist and Marcus Nilson also scored, while Tomas Rolinek and Radim Vrbata countered for the Czechs.
Finland 3 United States 2 (OT)
At Halifax, the United States were elminated from the tournament after Sami Lepisto’s goal at 3:59 of overtime gave Finland a berth in the semifinal.
The U.S. rallied with goals by Phil Kessel and Drew Stafford 37 seconds apart to force overtime.
Tuomo Ruutu and Anssi Salmela scored in regulation for Finland, which now faces Russia in the semifinal.