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Saturday, May 22, 2010
Russia to face Czech Republic in final

Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany -- Pavel Datsyuk's late goal gave Russia a 2-1 victory over Germany on Saturday and put the defending title winners into the world hockey championship final game against the Czech Republic.

Datsyuk, of the Detroit Red Wings, scored the winning goal on a breakaway with 1:50 remaining.

Russia, which has won 27 straight games at the worlds since 2007, was challenged by the motivated hosts. Germany made its first semifinals appearance since the current format was added in 1992.

"Every game, you go deeper and deeper, and it's tougher and tougher," Datsyuk said. "Especially when you play the home team, they have lots of fans and that helped them."

Russia, the most successful team in worlds history with 25 championships, will try on Sunday to become the first team to win three straight titles since the Czech Republic from 1999 to 2001.

The Czechs beat Sweden 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday to return to the final for the first time since 2006. They haven't won the title since 2005.

"Two weeks ago, nobody gave us a chance," Czech star Jaromir Jagr said. "I'm so happy for these guys. Now we're going to the final."

The Czech Republic has won five world titles. Czechoslovakia earned six others.

Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly gave Russia the lead just two minutes in against Germany, but his shot hit the post.

Russia was then down two men for 49 seconds midway through the first period when Nikolai Kulemin was given a major penalty for boarding and ejected for a hit on Korbinian Holzer, who was unable to return to the game.

With 1:55 left in Kulemin's penalty, Alexei Emelin was sent off for hooking for another 5-on-3 power play for Germany.

The Germans took advantage with 58 seconds remaining when Marcel Goc of the Nashville predators scored off a rebound of Felix Schutz's shot.

With Germany playing short-handed three minutes into the second period, Schutz raced off on a breakaway but couldn't beat goalie Vasili Koshechkin.

Russia struggled to take control in the second period, but got even when Malkin's slap shot off a pass from Penguins teammate Sergei Gonchar got past goalie Robert Zepp.

After both teams had good scoring chances in the third period, Datsyuk stole a pass in the German zone and streaked down the ice before beating Zepp to the upper left corner from the left side.

"We were close but close is not enough," said German defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who also plays for the Vancouver Canucks. "We can finish the tournament with a medal, and no one would have expected that beforehand."

In the first semifinal, Karel Rachunek scored with 7.5 seconds left in relegation to force overtime. Jan Marek's shootout goal gave the Czechs the win.

"We struggled in the first round and almost didn't make it," said Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun, also of the Florida Panthers. "We were in a must-win situation against Canada, and if we lost, we would have gone home.

"We've been playing elimination round-style hockey ever since we lost to Norway. That put us in a very bad spot. We've beaten some very good teams, and now we've beaten Sweden twice."

Johan Harju's power-play goal opened the scoring for Sweden eight minutes in. But Tomas Mojzis got the Czechs even.

Sweden regained the lead with eight minutes remaining in the second period on Andreas Engqvist's goal.

Vokoun stopped Magnus Johansson and Tony Martensson in the shootout.

Sweden, the 2006 champion, will be playing for its second straight bronze medal.