Russia to face Finland in worlds final
A handout picture released by HHOF-IIHF Images shows Russian players gathering aroung their net during a semifinal game against Sweden in the IIHF World Championship in Minsk on May 24, 2014 - by Andre Ringuette
Russia battled back from a goal down to dethrone reigning champions Sweden 3-1, while the Finns recorded a 3-0 win over the Czechs to set up their first ever meeting with Russia in the final.
In Saturday's early semi-final defender Yevgeni Medvedev collected two points for assists, while 'keeper Sergei Bobrovski produced 22 saves to record Russia's 11th win over Sweden in 18 meetings at the world championships in the post-Soviet era.
"We paid the price for our muddled performance at the beginning of the match allowing the Swedes to grab the lead easily," Washington Capitals marksman Alexander Ovechkin said.
"For many of my teammates it was a first world semi-final and naturally some of them were nervous.
"Luckily, we managed to come back to score twice before the first break and kept our lead. Now we have just one match to play at the tournament and we will do our best to win it."
Sweden got off to a flying start as their forward Oscar Moller put them 1-0 up when the match was just 19 seconds old following a defensive blunder.
Russia pulled level at 13:25 when their forward Sergei Plotnikov wristed in a rebound, while right winger Sergei Shirokov made it 2-1 up with two minutes remaining before the first intermission.
SKA St Petersburg rear guard Anton Belov rounded off the scoring 11:02 into the second period.
Sweden manager Par Marts substituted his goalie for an extra attacker with 2:36 remaining in the third period while Russia were shorthanded but Mikael Backlund's 5+20 min late penalty dashed Sweden's hopes of saving the day.
"It's a very frustrating defeat," Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said.
In the second semi-final, Sibir Novosibirsk center Jori Lehtera put Sochi Olympics bronze medalists Finland 1-0 up 8:57 when he beat Czech goalie Alexander Salak with a close-range backhand shot.
Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod center Jarkko Immonen made it 2-0 for Finland 11:02 into the second period sweeping the puck in under Salak's right pad from just outside the crease on powerplay.
In the third Finns sat comfortably on their advantage before Czech manager Vladimir Ruzicka substituted Salak for an extra field player in attempt to save the day but only to allow Lehtera to score an empty-netter with 11sec remaning.
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 20 saves to record his third shutout at the event.
"We have played our best game at the tournament so far," Finland head coch Erkka Westerlund said.
"We started really well and scored in the first period. In the second the Czechs have pinned us back playing on powerplay but we managed to come back and score again.
"In the third we have showed an excellent defensive play while our goalie Rinne was in complete command of his net. We were the better side and won deservedly."
The bronze medal game and the final will be played in Minsk on Sunday.