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Tkachuk's Four Goals Propel U.S. Past Russia

Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page D02

Keith Tkachuk had four goals and an assist to lead the United States into the World Cup of Hockey semifinals with a 5-3 victory over Russia last night in St. Paul, Minn.

The St. Louis Blues forward -- normally the target of boos at the Minnesota Wild's Xcel Energy Center -- was the difference for the Americans, who avenged last week's loss to the Russians by eliminating them from the tournament.

U.S.'s Keith Tkachuk, middle, scores his first goal against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov as Dimitry Kalinin (45) and U.S.'s Bill Guerin (13) watch. Russia was eliminated. (Reuters Photo)

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The United States will play either Finland or the Czech Republic, which advanced from the European Division with a 6-1 victory over Sweden earlier last night, on Friday night in St. Paul. Canada hosts Slovakia in Toronto today with the final semifinal berth on the line.

After Russia tied it at 2 with a quick goal in the third period, Tkachuk had a chance to score after Russia's Dmitry Kalinin turned the puck over in the neutral zone. His shot deflected off a defender's stick, but Scott Gomez of the New Jersey Devils was there to punch a shot past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 4 minutes 25 seconds.

Just 22 seconds later, Bill Guerin made a nice pass from the left circle to a cutting Tkachuk, who scored his fourth goal of the tournament to give the United States a 4-2 lead.

Russia pulled to 4-3 with 8:56 to play when Ilya Kovalchuk's slap shot from the left circle beat Robert Esche's glove during a four-minute power play. Russia couldn't convert on the second half of the advantage, created when Brian Leetch cut Dainuis Zubrus in the face with a high stick.

But the Americans played tight defense the rest of the way and Tkachuk added an empty netter with 55 seconds to play to seal the victory. Canada's Mario Lemieux also scored four goals in a game during the 1987 Canada Cup, the tournament that predated the World Cup.

Again opting for a younger lineup, U.S. Coach Ron Wilson scratched Brett Hull, Craig Conroy, Brian Rolston and Eric Weinrich.

-- From News Services

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