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Canada 4, Kazakhstan 1

By Beth Harris
AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, February 18, 1998; 8:19 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- With a lineup of NHL superstars such as Wayne Gretzky and Patrick Roy, Canada simply dazzled the Olympic hockey rookies of Kazakstan.

Gretzky had two assists and Roy stopped 16 shots as Canada defeated Kazakstan 4-1 today in the single-elimination quarterfinals for its fourth consecutive win.

``We knew that we were the superior team,'' Gretzky said. ``We had to be patient, be smart and play our game.''

The victory set up a showdown in Friday's semifinals between goalies Roy and Dominik Hasek of the Czech Republic, a 4-1 winner over the United States.

``He's a great player, up there with the best players in the game,'' Gretzky said of Hasek. ``One player doesn't beat a team, though.''

Canada and Russia, also 4-0, are the only teams with spotless records. The Canadians have outscored opponents 16-4 in four games.

``We're where we want to be and we're playing with confidence,'' Canadian coach Marc Crawford said.

Playing its first Olympic hockey tournament, Kazakstan was outscored 25-6 in three round-robin losses.

``The Canadian team served as the teacher,'' Kazak coach Boris Alexandrov said. ``It was a major learning experience to play against such stars.''

Joe Nieuwendyk and Shayne Corson scored 42 seconds apart in the game's first 2:13 to give Canada a 2-0 lead before a raucous partisan crowd at Big Hat.

Nieuwendyk's slap shot from the left circle beat Kazak goalie Vitaly Yeremeyev through the legs. The same thing happened on Corson's goal after he took a pass from Eric Lindros.

The Kazaks got in on the act 1 1/2 minutes later. Konstantin Shafranov wristed a shot through the legs of a Canadian defender that bounced off Roy's stick and into the net.

``Kazakstan played with a lot of grit and heart,'' Crawford said. ``They were feisty guys right to the end.''

Canada survived a scare in the first period when the tying goal was disallowed because of a roughing penalty on Kazakstan.

The Canadians aimed another scoring barrage at Yeremeyev late in the second period. Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman made it 4-1 with goals 32 seconds apart on Gretzky's assists.

Gretzky, the biggest hockey star in Nagano, chipped a pass around two Kazakstan defenders and Yeremeyev to set up Shanahan's shot into the net's left corner. Yzerman scored on a rebound of Gretzky's shot at 17:01.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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