TEAM CANADA TOPS SLOVAKIA 4-1
RIGA, Latvia (CP) - Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby made sure Team Canada didn't get another taste of how fickle international hockey can be.
The Canadians outplayed Slovakia on Wednesday but found themselves in a tie game before Bergeron and Crosby scored late goals 90 seconds apart to lift Canada to a 4-1 win and into the semifinals at the IIHF world hockey championship.
Jeff Carter added a late goal while Mike Cammalleri also scored for the Canadians (6-1-0) while Dusan Milo replied for Slovakia (3-3-1), which will leave this tournament without a medal for the third straight year. Canada, meanwhile, moved one step closer to getting a medal for the fourth straight year after winning silver last year and capturing gold in 2003 and '04.
Canada will face Sweden in the semifinal on Saturday (TSN, 1pm et/10am pt). The Swedes easily handled the U.S. 6-0 in the early quarter-final game on the strength of three goals by Mika Hannula.
The evening quarter-final was much closer.
Slovakia looked like it was playing for overtime when Bergeron spun and took a weak shot through a crowd that hit Slovak goalie Karol Krizan's pad and bounced in at 12:53 of the third period.
Crosby scooped up a rebound on a Bergeron shot to score his seventh goal of the tournament at 14:23 before Carter beat Krizan nine seconds later.
The teams did little to elicit any energy from a sparse crowd at Arena Riga in the opening minutes as each started tentatively.
Canada was first to find its game but couldn't solve Karol Krizan, an undrafted 25-year-old who plays in Sweden. The Slovak goalie made excellent saves on Dan Hamhuis and Crosby to keep the Canadians off the scoreboard.
Milo made it 1-0 at 17:36 of the first period after Marian Hossa had generated Slovakia's first good scoring chances of the game. Milo appeared to be passing the puck to Hossa when it deflected off a stick and past Canadian goalie Marc Denis.
The Slovaks seemed content to sit on that lead, showing little interest in trying to score at even strength during the second period.
The frustration was growing for Canada. Kyle Calder was left shaking his head on the bench after having the puck role of his stick as he was moving in alone on Krizan midway through the second period.
But Cammalleri eased that pressure with his first goal of the tournament at 14:35 of the second period when he skated by two Slovak defenders and chipped the puck over Krizan, who was down after making a nice toe save on Brendan Shanahan.
It was 1-1 heading to the second intermission, but Canada held a 28-18 shot advantage and had the momentum.
Notes: Ottawa Senators defenceman Andrej Meszaros arrived in Latvia in the afternoon and suited up for Slovakia ... Stacey Roest, a former NHLer who has been practising with Team Canada, has been formally added to the roster and will receive a medal if the team wins one ... Canada beat Slovakia 5-4 in the quarter-finals last year ... The only world championship gold for Slovakia came in 2002.