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CANADA SHUTOUT, GERMANY EARNS A TIE

Monday, 02.20.2006 / 11:09 AM / News
Arizona Coyotes
Switzerland 2, Germany 2 FINAL

TURIN, Italy (AP) - This time, it was Team Upset that got an unexpected jolt in the Olympic men's hockey tournament.

Tino Boos scored the tying goal in the third period and Germany, ranked below Switzerland in the world rankings, pulled off a surprise 2-2 tie Sunday that followed Swiss upsets of gold medal favorite Canada and the world champion Czech Republic.

The tie assures the Swiss of advancing to the quarterfinals but may have dulled some of their upset-driven momentum.

"Unfortunately, we didn't play as good as we did the previous two games, but we were able to get the point that allows us to go into the quarterfinals," said goalie David Aebischer, who made 26 saves.

The tie also makes it less likely the Swiss will move into the quarterfinals as the top-seeded team from the six-team Group A. Their only remaining round-robin game is Tuesday against winless Italy.

"Our goal at this tournament was to qualify for the quarterfinals and we have done that, but we still have to build through our next games," Paul DiPietro said.

Especially since they will be playing more games in Turin than expected. Asked if the Swiss realistically expected to advance from their group, backup goalie Martin Gerber said, "No, not really."

A day after beating Canada 2-0 behind Gerber's 49 saves in one of the biggest upsets in international play in a half-century, the Swiss took a 2-1 lead in the second period and looked to protect it against a German team that had scored only five goals in three games.

DiPietro, the former NHL grind-line forward who scored both goals against Canada, put the Swiss ahead in the final two minutes of the second after Flavien Conne had tied it about eight minutes into the period.

But after playing flawless defensive hockey while preserving late leads over Canada and the Czechs, the Swiss (2-1-1) found it can be harder to play as a favorite than as an underdog.

Germany, 10th in last year's world rankings to the Swiss' No. 8, kept pressuring Aebischer of the Colorado Avalanche over the final two periods and got the tying goal with about eight minutes left. Eduard Lewandowski gathered the puck behind the net and fed in front to Boos, who missed his first stuff-in attempt but got the second past Aebischer.

"We were a little tired after the great match against Canada," Swiss forward Thomas Ziegler said. "And the end result is good, we're in the quarterfinals."

Germany (0-2-2) got a strong game from Washington Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig, who turned aside 23 shots. But, with no victories and only a game against strong Finland remaining, Germany has almost no chance to advance to the quarterfinals.

Canada 0, Finland 2 FINAL

TURIN, Italy (AP) - All this talent on the Canadians' men's hockey team, and nothing to show for it. No wins in two weekend Olympic games. No chemistry. Worst of all, no goals.

0 Canada, indeed.

Teemu Selanne scored his sixth goal in four games and Finland stayed unbeaten in Olympic round-robin play, beating gold-medal favorite Canada 2-0 Sunday - the Canadians' second shutout loss in as many days.

The flying Finns - and they certainly have been while going 4-0 - overcame Canada's physicality and size advantage with excellent puck movement, transitional play and a strong game in net by Antero Niittymaki, who made 24 saves.

Finland took advantage of Canada's unfamiliarity with the bigger international ice surface and a lack of continuity among Canada's four lines, which coach Pat Quinn juggled after a stunning 2-0 loss to Switzerland on Saturday.

"We kind of looked dopey, quite frankly," a perplexed Quinn said. "We had bad pursuit. We skated to areas where nobody else was - 'I'll be clear over here, I'll be fine,' but you're not fine - and we didn't have any teamwork."

By winning, Finland secured the top spot in Group A and will play the fourth-place team from Group B in the quarterfinals, almost certainly the U.S. (1-2-1), on Wednesday.

"It's the first big step to win this group," coach Erkka Westerlund said. "But I haven't talked to them yet about the next opponent."

Niko Kapanen also scored during a two-goal Finn first period and Niittymaki, of the Philadelphia Flyers, made the lead stand up even as Canada pressured repeatedly. Canada outshot Finland 19-16 over the final two periods after trailing 12-2 in shots late in the first period.

Canada has taken 73 shots in its last two games, including the historic loss to Switzerland that was its first loss to that tiny country in Olympic play, but has not scored since the final minute of its 5-1 win over Germany on Thursday.

"We've certainly had a few games we don't like too well," Quinn said. "We've had a lot of good individual play but that's not how you win a gold medal."

It's not panic time for the defending gold medalists, who didn't begin playing like a cohesive team instead of a cast of individual stars until midway through the 2002 Salt Lake City games.

"It takes time," Quinn said. "Hopefully it doesn't take too much time because you will be out of here."

But the fact that scorers such as Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla can't get the puck in the net must be perplexing Quinn and executive director Wayne Gretzky.

"They were a little bit frustrated," Finland's Olli Jokinen said. "We got off to a good start and we outskated them in the first 10 minutes in the game, and we were able to get two goals."

Canada had not been shut out in consecutive Olympic games since it failed to score in its final three games in 1984.

"We've got to get better," Kris Draper said. "We haven't done it for a couple of games, and we've got to find a way real quick."

This game effectively meant little - both teams are moving on from Group A to the quarterfinals that start Wednesday, and all that matters is positioning. Slovakia (4-0) leads Group B, but Russia (3-1) has won three in a row and Sweden (3-1) beat Canada in 2002, so finishing first or last might not make much difference.

But if this continues much longer - the Canadians finish round-robin play Tuesday against the Czech Republic - Canada's player selection may come under further scrutiny.

Gretzky, Quinn and Hockey Canada stayed mostly with experience, leaving off young, productive players such as Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Sidney Crosby. But there were questions if that was a wise approach in a format that requires the finalists to play eight games in 12 days.

Finland certainly looked fresh despite coming off an intense 4-2 win over the Czechs the night before, with Selanne making it 1-0 midway through the first. Saku Koivu outfought Chris Pronger for the puck behind the net and shoveled it in front to Selanne, whose shot may have tipped off goalie Roberto Luongo's glove.

Kapanen scored slightly more than four minutes later, after a shot from the high slot off a faceoff win ricocheted hard off the back boards to the front of the net, allowing Kapanen to stuff it in.

Canada captain Joe Sakic wore a full visor after being cut on his left cheekbone against Switzerland. X-rays were negative.

"We're facing adversity now, but it's better it be now than later," Sakic said. "As the game went on, we did a better job keeping it together, but we're still not together."

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