Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Team Canada rolls over Team Slovakia

Iggy comes through in clutch


Jarome Iginla ended his scoring slump with two goals as Canada rolled over Slovakia 5-0 on Wednesday night to advance to the semifinals of the World Cup of Hockey.

Iginla scored during an outburst of four goals in a 9:20 span of the second period and added another in the third frame as Canada improved to 4-0 in the tournament.

Canada next plays the Czech Republic in the semifinals Saturday (CBC, 6:30 p.m. EDT). The United States plays Finland on Friday night in the other semifinal (CBC, 7 p.m. EDT).

"It's going to be a tough game," Iginla told CBC. "We've been watching them, we realize it's not how you start a tournament and they're starting to rev up now.

"They've scored a lot of goals lately, they've got a lot of fire power. So it's going to be a good one." The final of the eight-team tournament is Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

Vincent Lecavalier, Iginla, Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth tallied in the second-period spree that chased starting goaltender Jan Lasak in favour of Rastislav Stana at 11:48.

Shots were 26-23 in favour of Canada as Martin Brodeur earned his first shutout.

An announced crowd of 18,786 - 33 fewer than a sellout at the Air Canada Centre - watched Canada's top line of Mario Lemieux, Iginla and Sakic put on a show.

"It's such a treat playing with Mario and Joe Sakic," said Iginla. "You know you're going to get chances playing with them."

Iginla, who had a first-period goal disallowed because he pushed Lasak into the net with the puck, finally got on the board after being thwarted on numerous chances in the first three games.

The injury-riddled Slovaks made a game of it for 20 minutes.

The team that took the ice was much changed from the loose, risk-taking squad that went 0-3 during round robin play. This group played as five-man units, was watchful on defence and was not outplayed in the first period.

But Lecavalier scored that critical first goal 2:28 into the second frame and Canada took control.

After Miroslav Satan was sent off for tripping Shane Doan, Brad Richards blew past Radoslav Suchy on the rush and fed his Tampa Bay teammate Lecavalier for a blast into an open net.

No team has won yet in the tournament after giving up the opening goal and it caused the Slovaks to sag and begin losing most of the battles for the puck.

Less than three minutes later, Iginla came off the boards and slid a shot to the far post that looked to go in off a Slovak defender battling in the crease with Lemieux.

Dany Heatley then won a race for the puck and fed a backhand pass to the onrushing Lecavalier, whose backhand shot was tipped in at the net by Smyth at 11:29.

Only 19 seconds later, Sakic finished a tic-tac-toe rush with Iginla and Lemieux.

Iginla was sent in on the right side to score on a shot to the far post 7:49 into the third period.

Brodeur was rarely tested, but he made a fine stop on Lubos Bartecko on a shot from the edge of the crease midway through the second period.

Brodeur also took a penalty for a slash on Richard Zednik in the middle frame and the penalty was served by the 38-year-old Lemieux.

Canada has yet to trail in a game. Slovakia went 0-4.

Notes: Finland and the Czech Republic both practised in Toronto on Wednesday. ... A surprise scratch for Slovakia was defenceman Richard Lintner, who had played on the first defence pair with Zdeno Chara. Also scratched was Ladislav Cierny while defencemen Jaroslav Obsut and Radoslav Suchy returned to the line-up. ... Canada's scratches were the same as the last two games: goalie Jose Theodore and forwards Patrick Marleau, Kirk Maltby and Brenden Morrow. Defencemen Wade Redden (shoulder) and Ed Jovanovski (knee) are injured.

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