Holders Canada to face Sweden in ice hockey world final

Cologne (Germany) (AFP) - Holders Canada booked their place in the ice hockey world championship final against Sweden with a dramatic 4-2 comeback victory over fellow heavyweights Russia in Saturday's semi-final in Cologne.

The Canadians will bid for a third successive title against Sweden, who beat neighbours Finland 4-1 in the second, bad-tempered semi-final.

Defending champions Canada scored four times without reply in the third period by roaring back from 2-0 down.

The six minutes of penalties Russia accrued cost them dearly as Mark Scheifele and Nate MacKinnon scored to level the contest.

Buffalo Sabres centre Ryan O'Reilly then scored and provided an assist for the Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier to cap a famous comeback win.

"That was one of the greatest hockey games I have ever been a part of," said Canada head coach Jon Cooper.

"Those were two really, really good hockey teams.

"We took all the penalties in the second, they got a power-play goal, which sucked the life out of us.

"Then they ended up taking penalties in the third, which sucked the life out of them.

"Both teams played extremely hard and if it had gone to overtime, we would have said it probably deserved to, but I am very glad it didn't."

A win for Canada in Sunday's final will draw them level with record champions Russia, who claimed 22 of their 27 world titles as the Soviet Union.

"We played a very good game, but fortune wasn't with us today," said Russia head coach Oleg Znarok, who refused to blame his side's fatigue for the defeat.

"My players fought very well, and at the end of the day it's just a game."

In a tight contest Russia, the 2014 world champions, were cruising at 2-0 up in the second period after Canadian indiscipline cost them eight minutes of penalties.

The Russians took the lead when Washington Capitals star Evgeny Kuznetsov was presented with an easy tap-in.

Superb work by Artemi Panarin, the leading scorer of these worlds, and Nikita Kucherov in the build-up split the Canadian defence.

Panarin, who plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, then delivered another assist as Gusev struck on a power play with five minutes left in the period as Canada's Wayne Simmonds was in the penalty box.

But Canada pulled a goal back just 17 seconds into the third period when Scheifele knocked home his third goal of the tournament, also on a power play.

The momentum swiftly shifted in favour of Canada when MacKinnon and O'Reilly scored in quick succession to put the defending champions 3-2 up with just over three minutes left.

Couturier added a fourth for the Canadians with just over a minute remaining to keep them on course for a third straight title.

Later, in the other semi-final, Sweden's Alexander Edler gave his side the lead before Finland's Joonas Kemppainen equalised.

Sweden's John Klingberg and William Nylander then scored power-play goals in the decisive second period with Finland picking up eight minutes of penalties.

Sweden's centre Joakim Nordstrom added a fourth point in the third period as last year's beaten finalists Finland were routed.

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